Mobility easier with newest parking law

Gov. James Thompson signed a new handicapped parking law on Sept. 17. The new statute will require all handicapped parking spaces to be widened to 16 feet and to be posted with signs designating their reserved status.

At last, someone had the good sense to realize the average parking space simply can’t accomodate the equipment disabled people rely on for mobility. A good number of spaces are barely wide enough to accomodate people who have full use of their legs, much less hydraulic van lifts, wheelchairs and walkers.

Wider spaces are necessary if handicapped parking is to serve its purpose effectively. Spaces that go unused do so not because there’s no need or demand for them, but because they aren’t designed properly.

Posting reserved signs on handicapped parking spaces is another idea that’s overdue. A wheelchair painted on the asphalt in a parking lot simply doesn’t do the trick. Paint fades. Night falls. And it snows in the Midwest.

No doubt about it, there are selfish, lazy, insensitive clods out there who don’t care when they take a handicapped parking space that they’re making life even more difficult for people whose lives are complicated enough.

But many spaces are so poorly marked that even the most considerate person could end up violating the law—and the rights of the disabled. The new signs will clearly designate reserved handicapped spaces—regardless of the time of day or weather conditions.

Many handicapped spaces at NIU already are posted with blue signs designating them as reserved, and the rest will be soon. Now no one has any excuses for parking illegally in a space reserved for the disabled.

As for any selfish, lazy, insensitive clods who are left out there—a little consideration and respect goes a long way. Before taking a handicapped space to avoid having to walk, think about what it would be like not to be able to walk at all.