Think before you park: Why a local woman says it can have a bigger impact than you think

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — A local woman is hoping to raise awareness about van-accessible parking. 

For Dianna Jo and her daughter, finding van-accessible parking is a challenge they face daily.

“We find a parking space and it has the lines for loading and unloading her and on the correct side for her and then somebody parks in those lines,” said Jo. “I cannot get my daughter out of the vehicle.”

These loading zones are critical for Dianna to get her daughter who uses a wheelchair, in and out of the van safely.

“Imagine having to back your vehicle up and then get her out of the vehicle in the middle of a parking lot, which is dangerous,” said Jo. “Then, I have to pray that she leaves her wheels locked for me to pull the van back in. It’s not safe. It’s not safe and those lines are there for a reason. “

It’s more than just an inconvenience. Rocky Nichols with the Disability Rights Center of Kansas said these types of things can make those with disabilities feel isolated from the rest of society.

“You’re prohibiting that person with a disability from being able to participate in society, to be able to be a full citizen,” said Nichols. “You’re telling them you’re not wanted here, and obviously we don’t want a society like this. We want an open and accessible society.”

If there’s one thing Dianna wants people to take away from her experience, it’s to think before they park.

“I’m just asking people to be compassionate,” said Jo. “Think. Be caring. Be kind.”

According to the United States Access Board, it’s required for parking lots to have at least one van accessible stall for every 25 parking spaces. The number of requried van accessible stalls increases if the lot has more than 200 parking spaces. 

In Topeka, parking in a loading zone could result in a $70 fine, while parking in a handicap stall without a placard can result in a $100 fine.

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