A Broken System.
Your article on handicap parking in the September issue (Handicapped Parking) evoked the frustration I feel almost on a daily basis when trying to park my BMW sedan in a space wide enough to load and unload my wheelchair. Proximity to my destination is less important than the extra width provided by handicap parking.
In my eight years in a wheelchair, it's clear to me that abuse of handicap parking is rampant. This especially impacts my quality of life as I live alone, I am very active in the community and do a lot of traveling. I rarely observe a driver using handicap parking who even remotely meets the guidelines to qualify for a handicap tag.
I can make this assertion because in many cases I know the person. For example, I work out almost daily in a fitness center in the community where I live. The same people use handicap parking at the fitness center regularly. I watch them in the facility using treadmills, stairclimbers and leg exercise machines with no difficulty whatsoever. Some of them even play fast-paced net games like tennis and pick-leball.
They are parking legally in handicap spaces because they have been assigned a tag by their physician. What takes the cake is that they will park in the handicapped space even though a standard space is immediately adjacent and available.
I've learned that these are well-meaning, responsible citizens but [they] don't understand the legal meaning of handicap, in this context.
Bottom line, the system is broken and needs attention from our political leadership. Hopefully, the PVA [Paralyzed Veterans of America] can help.
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.