Disabled drivers seek greater enforcement of accessible parking laws
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - There are regulations and penalties for not following the rules when it comes to accessible parking. But rules being broken comes as no surprise to drivers with disabilities.
“It means I’m excluded, and I’ll tell you, it feels rotten being excluded, being left out,” Elizabeth Fust, President of nonprofit Gathering Strength said.
The nonprofit’s mission is to ensure equitable access for the disabled.
The Americans with Disabilities act was passed 32 years ago, and Fust said some property owners and drivers are still not getting it right when it comes to accessible parking.
Fust is a T7 paraplegic after suffering a spinal cord stroke in 2006.
She said problems are so common, she always wonders if she will find a parking space when she leaves her house in her specially equipped van.
“I have had to go back home, or I have had to find someone to help me,” Fust said. “It is frustrating.”
Fust has collected video evidence of common problems, including spaces that are not made properly and motorists who park illegally.
Driving through a Louisville area parking lot, Fust easily pointed out spaces that were too small for her to deploy her van’s access ramp.
“Even If I could get into that one,” Fust said pointing to an empty space, “I couldn’t get out of my van.”
Fust lobbied Louisville Metro Council to toughen the city’s Accessible Parking Ordinance in June 2020, adding a penalty of towing.
A public records request revealed 1,616 citations were later issued over a period of 696 days, an average of a little over 2 a day. But Fust believes towing enforcement is lagging far behind.
“My experience is the police officer on the beat, on the street, is not aware of it,” Fust said. “And so I’m working with LMPD to do training on it, and also citizens with disabilities also don’t know about it.”
Fust hopes greater awareness by property owners, police and other motorists will lead to more compliance and less uncertainty for her, and drivers like her, who are being excluded by being denied a place to park.
“I want people to do this not because they feel sorry for me or for us, but because they value us,” Fust said, “Because we contribute to the community and we should be involved.”
Read a full copy of Louisville Metro’s Accessible Parking Ordinance below:
Copyright 2022 WAVE. All rights reserved.