Any of you that have ever tried to do anything in downtown Madison know that parking is always an issue. Hell, just today I had to park at the meters in front of Camp Randall to avoid parking down near the zoo! But there is more to it than just that. Today at coffee I saw an article in the Isthmus that was talking about the cost of accessible parking permits going up due to people cheating the system. Having been on the receiving end of those permits, I can tell you that this is not out of the question.
I am not sure which disturbs me more, the idea that someone who needs it may not have access to the parking spot due to cheating in the system, or the fact that the permits that some people need are costing them more due to people who do not really need them. Of course, that may just be me.
The problem that I see is that there is a huge gray area with no real quantifiable characteristics that can be used for determining if a permit should be granted. That is not to say I think someone in leg braces or in a chair needs to prove they need it. I am talking the people that fit in that area of “cannot walk X distance without assistance or pain.” It is those last two words that get me. “Or pain.” What does that really mean?
Allow me to explain. I fit the criteria for the State of Wisconsin for a permit. I cannot walk the distance without pain. Up until about 5 or 6 years ago I thought a migraine was the worst pain I was going to deal with. It topped the broken bones and the like that I experienced up to that point. So when the doctor would ask you to gauge on a scale of 1-10 for pain, that was 10. When my L4-L5 disc ruptured and wrapped around the end of my spinal cord I discovered that my dial did, in fact, go to 11. Hell, maybe even 12.
Does walking longer distances cause me pain? You bet. Where would I scale that? Around a 3. You know what else I have scaled around a 3? dislocating my knee. Is it enough to stop me? Nope. Do I have the parking permit? Nope. Why? I don’t feel I need it and other people need it more than I do.
I didn’t bring it up due to just the article I saw in the paper this morning. I also bring it up as I was doubling back to park at the meters in front of Camp Randall as I set my limit at 1.5 miles from the office – and the closest street parking I found was past that. When I was turning around to park at a meter I saw a car parked in one of the disabled stalls. It had a bike rack on the back of it.
Before I am lambasted, yes I know that there can be a good reason for a disabled person to have that. I have also watched people obviously not disabled parking in those spots with their permits hanging from the mirror. I started to take notice of this when I most certainly did need it (the month after the surgery the most) but I would find no spots available. The best is watching a person with the ski racks or bike racks park in that spot and bounce out of the car and head in – after taking the last spot.