I often find myself wondering what sorts of formulas are used by the people who lay out parking lots to decide how many spaces to dedicate to handicapped parking. However they do it, they often seem to be wildly off.
For instance, look at these photos I took late last week, in the middle of a weekday, at the Target at Woodhill shopping center. You can see the two views more or less from the same vantage point. In the photo above, I’m looking slightly to my right, toward the store entrance. You see a huge expanse of spaces that are empty, because they are reserved for handicapped parking.
Turn slightly to the left, and you see the tightly packed “regular” parking. (Yes, I was in part motivated to shoot this by the Karmann Ghia in the foreground — I love those cars.)
Something seems off, although it probably isn’t.
I say it probably isn’t because, if I backed away and took a picture of the whole parking lot, the number of “regular” spaces would be proportional to the handicapped — and if, say around Christmas, the whole lot were nearly full, so would be the handicapped spaces. But it seems to the casual observer, day to day, like the number of handicapped spaces are disproportional in relation to the demand.
I worry a bit that the fact that it seems disproportional could undermine public support for handicapped spaces in general, since folks so often find themselves walking past so very many empty ones.
Maybe there would be a way to shift the number of dedicated handicapped spaces according to the demand at different times, the way some cities change the direction of some lanes according to which way rush hour traffic is going.
Or maybe, just maybe, those of us who have two good legs and relatively good health should shut up and walk the few extra yards without complaining. If for no better reason, because it helps to keep us healthy …