Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Economics of Handicapped Parking

I have several problems with handicapped parking:

1. Too many people get handicapped parking permits who probably shouldn't qualify. Notice in the sign above, it shows a picture of a WHEELCHAIR. How many people do you see parking in handicapped parking spaces who actually get out of their vehicle in a wheelchair? Almost none. If we restricted handicapped parking to people in wheelchairs, we would need only a fraction of the currently available handicapped spaces.

2. Most parking lots have WAY too many parking spaces allocated for handicapped parking, resulting in an extremely inefficient allocation of the most valuable real estate of any parking lot. I don't know this for sure, but I suspect this is because of government mandates.

For example, I just left a parking lot at the University of Michigan, Flint campus, near the center of campus, representing some of the most valued parking spaces on campus. There are 20 handicapped parking spaces in that lot, and ALL 20 of the parking spaces were VACANT as I left campus at about 8 p.m. I'll have to check that lot during the day, but my initial impression is that the university has OVER ALLOCATED handicapped parking spaces. I don't think there would ever be any cases when ALL 20 spaces would be used.

I'm not sure what a pure private market solution to handicapped parking would look like, but I'm pretty sure it would be more efficient than the current situation. After all, private companies like airlines figure out how to accommodate handicapped travelers using market pricing, without any of the inefficiencies (lots of unsold seats) of handicapped parking.

A couple of solutions come to mind:

1. A football stadium, university or Wal-Mart could provide shuttle service to handicapped drivers from remote lots, instead of reserving prime parking spaces that go unused much of the time.

2. Couldn't a stadium, university, or Wal-Mart be allowed to dynamically adjust the number of handicapped parking spaces over time (daily, weekly, monthly) to meet the actual demand, instead of allocating spaces based on some government-imposed formula?

I couldn't find much about the "economics of handicapped parking," but here is one
article from the Mises Institute.


At 12/06/2007 12:27 AM, Blogger VH said...

Excellent link and very interesting article. (I didn't even know Von Mises supporters had a site...sweet!)I think that convincing people that the free-market (businesses) should decide on handicap parking space allocation would be very difficult though. It's a very emotionally charged subject.

At 12/06/2007 1:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Natural, I couldn't agree with you more. Thank you.

At 12/06/2007 1:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While the current allocation of disabled parking spaces is likely far from optimal, it is easy to overestimate the utility of that empty space.

Consider a commuter lot with N parking spaces, one of them designated a disabled spot. By 8:30 am, the (N-1) non-disabled parking spaces are filled. After that, M additional drivers enter the lot looking for a parking space, see the empty disabled spot, and think to themselves, "If that space were not a 'handicapped spot', I would have been able to park there."

In fact, if the spot were not set aside, only the Nth person who entered the lot would have gotten the spot, the other (M-1) would have encountered a full lot.

In general, people are too quick to assume that they would have been that lucky Nth person, rather than the one of the unlucky (M-1), which is far more likely.

At 12/06/2007 2:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Natural,

Did you know you can get a handicapped parking permit for certain mental disorders? Check it out.

At 12/06/2007 2:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are WHINING because of a few parking places set aside for folks who might have one leg shorter than the other, or perhaps a prosthetic or two but don't have a fucking WHEELCHAIR? fuck you.

I have always been amazed at the self-righteous anger of people who presume to steal from others.

At 12/06/2007 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The number of handicap parking spaces, signage (a permanent sign located 6 to 8 feet high), pavement markings, and width and length of the spaces must conform to state law guided by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The spaces must be as close as reasonably possible to the entrance. There are seven conditions in the state of Michigan that allows a physician to state under oath a patient qualifies for handicap parking (mental condition is not one of the seven).

Although all seven conditions disqualify hourly employees from working, and some from even entering the factory, we were forced to comply with state law in our employee parking lots, which are somewhat remotely located to the factory. In fact, they removed our motorcycle parking lot for the handicap spaces. Any handicapped visitor who comes to the factory can park by the front door in the salary parking lot in the handicap spaces. Accordingly, we have many prime parking spaces in the employee lots that are never used. We have a lot of complaints from motorcyclists every year over that!

Once any violators are ticketed, if you don’t like the handicap laws, you'll have to take that up with your state and federal legislators. Good luck there.

Just as an aside, “handicapped” is politically incorrect because its connotation is from the old days when people with physical and mental problems went around collecting money in their hat or cap. Hence, “cap in hand.” Nowadays, the correct term is “disabled.” I don’t know when, if ever, the sign terminology will be changed.

At 12/06/2007 8:07 AM, Blogger bob wright said...

I'm always amazed that a person needs a parking space close to the door of a 100 acre shopping mall, a giant Wal Mart or a university campus.

They can walk AROUND the mall but they can't walk INTO the mall?

At 12/06/2007 8:15 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

EasyMoney: Good point, especially if the weather is pleasant. But in Michigan it's pretty cold now, so the walk to and from the parking lot can be pretty chilly, while walking around a warm store is relatively more pleasant.

At 12/06/2007 8:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think with 78 million aging baby-boomers, mobility issues will become much more important in the near future. However, just like everything else, common sense needs to prevail. I can't see where it makes any sense to have 50 unused and unusable parking spaces in a factory parking lot.

At 12/07/2007 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you. However there's one place short of handicap spaces - the local casino. LOL

At 12/10/2007 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A bad heart or lungs, prothetic leg, ruptured disk and 100's of other physical disabilities may not be apparent to the eye, but are nevertheless real. Walking a smooth, dry, even tiled mall floor is much easier than negotiating curbs, pavement, potholes, cars and other people... so think about it. I look completely healthy to someone who stares me down when I park in a disabled parking space, but have fallen twice in the past oon uneven pavement, broke my leg the first time and my arm the second time. It only takes a little bump in the road that I misjudge and wham! Quit judging everybody else.
I also agree that there are too many spaces assigned but have no idea how to know whether or not an actual parker meets MY personal definition of "worthy". Finally, the law requires that disabled people be provided with safe and negotiable access no worse that is no worse than anyone else's access (described in 1,000s of pages of the ADA manuals.) The Feds and the physician community have probably become too lenient, but I think the right to have a chance at living a close to normal life (as a disabled person), is worth far mmore than a few empty parking spaces.
By the way - what's the real problem? Just too far for you to walk? maybe you need the exercise... are you a fatty? Lt's talk about fatties and what their "voluntary" cost to society is.....

At 12/31/2007 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off most places do not have enough spots avail as I would know as I need them. And if you are so lazy you can not walk an extra 50 foot so that someone that really needs the spot can park there then you are a loser. Im sure you will be parking in them anyways like everyone else as screw the people that realy need them.

At 1/11/2008 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of the lard butts I see using handicapped parking could use the walk.

At 1/11/2008 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Handicapped spots seem like a violatin of the 5th Amendment. Probably too deep a comment for the whiners on this site.

At 2/01/2008 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What more do you want out of a life long learner who has never worked in the real world. Get to reality. Maybe tomorrow you slide into a tree while skiing and break a few bones? or have a heart attack? Just because you are healthy today doesn't mean you will be tomorrow. You probably don't even drop a buck in the kettle at Christmas. Get out of the Ivy halls and into the real world... Maybe you get a little sympathy for the less fortunate when you don't have kids begging for grades and groveling. And appreciate that you have the ability to walk 100 feet. And if you lived in New York or D.C., you wouldn't have a car anyway and walk or use a subway every where you go. Stop acting like a spoiled, Detroit Brat!!!

At 2/16/2008 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You want me to get on a shuttle so you won't be bothered by my wheelchair accessable van..


You must have went to the U of M.

Thank You For Your Support

At 5/14/2008 11:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what a giant load of entitlement and ignorance and jerkitude wrapped up together.

Try using paratransit some time in your daily life and see how you do with it... you freaking moron. While in pain.

I have another suggestion. Put some broken glass inside your shoes. Now, go to the grocery store and get what you need for the week. Then you will see what it is like to walk in pain and what a difference a few yards can make.

Then get a job. And park at it.

Good luck.


At 10/18/2008 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have admittedly come across this post late, but I am entirely disgusted by the assumption that wheelchair=disability.
And if you are an able-bodied person who has to park in an overflow lot, well too bad. You can do that. Someone who needs disability parking can't. My university, which is considerably smaller than UofM, has about 40 disabled parking spots in front of the main buildings, and they are always filled up by 1:00 every day. Of course they are empty around 8pm, as most everyone has already LEFT!
The ignorance behind this post is astounding.

At 10/24/2008 2:32 PM, Blogger Dan L said...

What's your problem? You want the gimps to ride the shuttle so arrogant pricks like you can park up front? Don't you have anything better to whine about?

At 1/12/2009 12:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why does this article have to be about whining? someone made a good point if there's not a dire need for 100 handicap parking spots then there's not a need for them. You're reallypissed cause you ended up unfortunately handicap and someone else didnt? So if someone who is bed ridden said to you they wished they were handicapped and could make it into a store would that make u a whiner? We all have bad lots in life get over it.

At 10/14/2009 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The abhorent surplus of handicap parking spaces is indeed reverse discrimination towards the "able-bodied".

Perhaps states, counties and cities could use census information detailed to more accurately designate appropriate handicap parking spaces(based upon their specific demographics).

If a community of 25,000 people has only 5 documented handicaps within their boundaries, then the entire city does not need 20 parking spaces available at every large parking lot for handicaps. If the same city has 2,000 documented handicaps then the city needs more designated parking. It seems completely logical to me.

When I go to a shopping center in an extremely small town and see the first several rows of parking unavailable to able-bodied people, its just as offensive as being in a large city with very little handicap parking.

As an able-bodied person, Im not opposed to parking as far away from the store front as possible to enjoy a brisk walk thru the lot. However what about when its very late at night and I go to the same store in the snow when its -20 and have to park far away from the store because the closest spots are all (empty) handicap spots?

What about when someone with handicap parking identification parks in a handicap spot and they sprint into a store...literally jogging...with no handicap person getting out of their vehicle??? If your handicap loved one isnt exiting or entering the vehicle, you should not be using their parking pass... right?!

At 3/22/2010 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get a lot of nasty looks/comments because my 6 year old can't be outside in certain weather/seasons...her respiratory system can't take it. We only use the placard when necessary and even take abuse at her school! .....I've been told by the principal and superintendent that I'm 'not allowed' to use her placard and park in the disabled parking space.

At 3/22/2010 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter has severe asthma that fortunately doesn't require her to ride in a wheelchair. She can't, however, spend any time outdoors in frigid temperatures or in any kind of pollen during those seasons. I've recently been forbidden to park in the disabled parking at my daughter's school because "people" don't think she requires a closer spot. REALLY?!?! TFB. Are those people going to be sitting next to her hospital bed after her next episode? The school wants a doctor's note. Bring it on....


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