For Jackie Gonzalez, driving to work can present a stressful conundrum because she has a hard time finding parking that works for her.
What You Need To Know
- Jackie Gonzalez says it difficult to find disabled parking spots in downtown Orlando, where she works
- According to the Orlando officials, there are 1,265 metered parking spaces in the downtown area
- Of those, only 18 are reserved for drivers with disabled parking permits
- According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, as of Oct. 1, there were 87,505 customers with a permanent disabled person parking permit in Orange County
Gonzalez has erythromelalgia, a condition that causes searing pain in her feet and makes walking for more than a few minutes impossible. A disabled parking tag hangs from her mirror, granting Gonzalez clearance to use an accessible parking spot — but she says it’s hard to find handicap parking.
“There’s no parking, just, period,” she said. “No on-street parking. And even when there is street parking, there’s a time limit.”
In the downtown area near her University of Central Florida office, she says the lack of disabled parking makes finding a spot close enough to the office a roll of the dice.
Her workplace has a parking garage, but to reach the office, Gonzalez says she would have to bring her wheelchair and get it out from the car — a cumbersome process she says takes too much time and energy.
According to Orlando officials, there are 1,265 metered parking spaces in the downtown area, but only 18 of them are allotted disabled parking spaces.
Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has reported about 87,505 customers with a permanent disabled person parking permit in Orange County.
Sometimes, Gonzalez says she gets lucky and finds a non-disabled space close to work — but her time in that spot is limited to four hours, per state law.
“Can I actually go through the day and work, and not have to worry about looking at the clock every 30 minutes or so? Because I don’t want another ticket,” she said. “That is a really crappy feeling.”
Gonzales is not alone in her search for accessible parking — groups like the Accessible Parking Coalition, a national advocacy organization, point out the multitude of barriers to safe parking for disabled people.
Because accessibility issues vary from city to city, the group encourages individuals to take action locally and has a list of resources and advice on their website.