By Robert Frank
At the end of every workday, Bruce Alan Gordon drives to Concorde metro station to pick up his wife. Gordon lost a leg to diabetes a decade ago, so he’s entitled to use the reserved parking spots there. Most of the time, he can’t.
“Every night, someone is occupying the two handicapped spots,” he told The Suburban. “I usually see five different offenders pull in and out over the course of the half-hour that I’m there. They just sit there waiting to pick up someone.”
Gordon said some of the drivers become aggressive if asked to move.
“Most say ‘I’m just here for two minutes’,” he recounted. “They have no understanding of what it means for someone who’s handicapped and needs that spot. Others complain that the handicapped places are too large. Have they ever tried to back a wheelchair out of a van? They could just wait in a spot a bit farther away. Occasionally you will come across some young fellow in his 20s who gets aggressive verbally. Being on one leg, I don’t want to be involved in a confrontation.”
Part of the problem is that the handicapped spots are very poorly marked, Gordon observed. He hopes that the city will consider improving its signage and painting the pavement blue in the handicapped slots, to make them much more conspicuous.
Last year, officials issued 916 tickets for infringing on Laval’s handicapped parking spots, down from 978 in 2013.
“Laval sponsors awareness programs through social media to help raise awareness,” Laval Police Sgt. Frédéric Jean told The Suburban, “especially at Christmas, when parking becomes more scarce. We try to ensure that handicapped parking is respected, and likewise for fire hydrants, for safety reasons.”
Sgt. Jean urged motorists to dial 311—the city’s telephone hotline—to report a parking infraction.
“The city employs parking attendants who can issue tickets,” he said. “Police officers can also enforce the city’s parking bylaws. If there’s an ongoing problem, you can bring this to the attention of your community police station. They might assign patrols there or even send a police car, particularly if someone is acting aggressively.”
The city’s handicapped parking bylaw applies to commercial parking lots, Sgt. Jean added. “We had a car that was parked in a handicapped spot at Costco, which we can have towed immediately.
“Also, if there is a problem with signage, we can work with the city to address the problem and ensure that people with limited mobility have access to proper parking,” he concluded, urging the public to treat handicapped parking spots with more respect. “Most of us take our mobility for granted. I have a lot of admiration for people who have to live with a disability like that.”
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