A Word About Accessible Parking

By Dana Gover, ADA Specialist and Coordinator for NWADA Center – Idaho

Correct Parking SignOne of the frequent comments I get from business owners is they want more business. At the Northwest ADA Center-Idaho we are available to provide technical assistance and training on low cost ideas to increase access that meet the ADA regulations. One of the major barriers that I encounter daily is the lack of accessible parking that prevents me from entering a business and spending my money. One of the reoccurring problems with accessible parking is the spaces are designed incorrectly; this barrier can be easily fixed by repainting the parking lot.

If a business or government entity has parking available, the accessible parking spaces must be designed according to the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Adding accessible spaces in most cases is a low cost, easy fix. However, if the parking is not marked correctly it can cause unintentional consequences.

Recently my colleague and I were driving home from a training that we provided at the annual Community Transportation Association of Idaho (CTAI) conference held in Sun Valley. We decided to take a break and have lunch at a local restaurant on the outskirts of Mountain Home before driving home to Boise. However this was not the relaxing stop we had anticipated due to the problems with the parking. As I drove into the parking lot, I noticed that the parking spaces were only marked with a sign. None of the spaces were marked with lines or the required adjacent access aisles located next to the accessible spaces. So I parked on the end of the front row and took up two unmarked spaces. I drive a wheelchair accessible mini-van equipped with a lift that comes out on the passenger door. The lift requires extra space on the ground so I can exit the van in my electric wheelchair.

Before I could put my lift down on the ground, a lady and her husband pulled up in a van with a disabled license plate wanting to park in the space next to my van on the lift side. When I didn’t move the van, she started honking her horn and yelling at us to move over. My friend got out of the van and tried to explain to her that the lift needs extra space but the lady would not listen. At one point the lady yelled, “people like you should be strangled”. To avoid further insults and conflict we left and did not go into the restaurant. If the parking lot WAS designed according to the ADA standards this situation would not have happened. The restaurant would have had four customers spending money that day not just two.

To address the parking problem, I sent the restaurant a letter explaining the encounter with the lady and provided the manager with information on how to correct the parking problem.

If you are a business owner or a person with a disability it is important that we work together as partners to provide common sense ideas and use the new ADA requirements called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design when designing parking. If parking spaces are not correctly designed this can keep people from entering a business and spending money. Maintaining your parking lot by making sure your parking spaces are clearly marked, free of debris and snow are also important in maintaining accessible parking. Consult Chapter 2 and Chapter 5 of 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

Link to Chapter 2 describing the number of required parking spaces:

Link to Chapter 5 describing accessible parking design requirements:

If you are a business and want ideas to increase access please contact the Northwest ADA Center-Idaho at 208-841-9422 or email dananwadacenteridaho@gmail.com. And be sure to have your business listed on www.blue-path.org and let customers know you have accessible parking!