This article is a departure from the usual subject material of this blog. It is a rant. If you feel like reading a rant today, read on.
I routinely see able-bodied people disregard handicap parking. This makes me furious for so many reasons. First of all, it demonstrates that the able-bodied individual thinks that his or her need for a convenient parking space is more important than the needs of an individual who, because of injury, age, circumstances of birth, genetics, or other causes, is simply unable to walk extra distance. It is not that the disabled person is being inconvenienced by having to park farther away from his or her destination. Instead, the disabled person is being PREVENTED from reaching his or her intended destination.
This lack of regard for fellow human beings is appalling. When an able-bodied person arrogantly parks in a handicap parking space, he or she also attacks the dignity of disabled people, because this act communicates the message that the disabled person is of less value than an able-bodied person.
When an able-bodied person parks in a handicap space, he or she is also breaking the law. Now, I can be upset about arrogance and callousness, but the passivity of law enforcement on this issue is especially infuriating to me.
Rather than siting in a highway underpass for hours on end to write fines for speeding, police officers should devote part of their time to patrolling handicap parking spaces. The posted fine for parking illegally in a handicap-labeled space is $250, in my municipality. That is a good chunk of money for the community coffers.
Another option, suggested by my brilliant wife, is re-purposing red light cameras. In the my region, the City of Chicago and some surrounding municipalities have attached cameras to red lights. If a vehicle enters an intersection after the light has turned red, there is an automatic $100 fine. This has, understandably, led to some controversy. But what if those cameras were used to observe handicap parking spaces? $250 fines galore and no controversy!
So why do able-bodied people park in handicap spaces? Self-importance? Arrogance? Callousness? Stupidity? Or, perhaps, because they simply think there will be no consequences.
There should be consequences. People like me should not have to confront or report able-bodied people who park in handicap spaces, just as we should not have to confront people who commit any other crime. That is the paid job of law enforcement.
So there is is. This rant is really a plea to my local police to protect the needs and dignity of some of our most vulnerable citizens. Uphold the law!