Be mindful of handicapped spaces

Editor of the Reformer:

I want to share something that has happened to me twice in the last six weeks. I use a wheelchair so when I park my car in a handicapped parking space I have to park in a handicapped space with an access aisle next to the driver's side of my truck. The access aisle is the space that is usually marked with cross hatched lines. They are not parking spaces. They are there so people who need extra room to get out of their vehicles or have a ramp that they use to get into their cars have the space to do so. In the last six weeks I have come back to my truck twice and have had cars park in those spaces. Obviously this is an inconvenience as I can't get into my car. The first time I went back into the Gibson-Aiken Center and the wonderful staff went and found the driver of the car who parked there. When the gentleman came out and moved his car he did apologize, but he had parked there because it was easier for him .he didn't even have a handicapped parking pass. This week I was having lunch at the Marina and the same thing happened. This car even had a handicapped placard! I went inside and the staff asked around, but they were unable to find the offender. I finally had someone move my car for me so that I could get in it.

In some states it is the law that these spaces be marked with signs that say no parking allowed. I believe in Vermont that handicapped spaces are to be marked not only on the pavement, but with a sign saying handicapped parking only. This is so important during the winter when the lines on the pavement are covered with snow and people inadvertently (or maybe not) park in those spaces since they can't see the markings.


What can be done? If you are a property owner, please make sure that the spaces are properly marked. It is a fineable offense for parking in these spaces, but truthfully the police have more important things to do. In Vermont you can be fined up to $271 and have your car towed for this violation and is treated as a traffic violation which will affect your insurance premium. The easiest thing to do would be for me to find someone to move my car for me and leave, but then the offending party would not be held accountable. Yet to find the driver, sometimes can be impossible (in a huge parking lot) and it wastes time that I may not have.

Brattleboro is working on making the town more accessible. The residents of the town need to help as well. Please don't park in handicapped parking spots or the protected spaces next to them if you don't have a pass, even if you "were only going to be a minute."

Thanks for your help.

Ben Underhill Brattleboro, March 4