Parking minimums and the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, extending handicapped people the opportunity to lead productive, social lives by promoting equal access to jobs, housing, and other facilities. A visible outcome of this far-reaching legislation is its handicapped-parking regulations, which require a minimum number of handicap accessible spaces in every parking lot across the United States. Part 36, Section 4.6 of the ADA stipulates that lots holding 50 cars or under must have two handicapped spots (one for a van, one for a car), and for each 50 spaces beyond that, one additional space must be added.
These numeric requirements are not derived from the actual population of disabled people, given that many handicapped Americans do not suffer from ambulatory problems. The quotas were based on anticipated need, says the Northeast ADA Center.
Handicap spaces are identifiable by their proximity to handicapped-accessible sidewalk ramps, extra width (96 inches for handicap car spots and 136 for van spots, as opposed to 90 inches for a standard space), striping for a wheelchair loading zone, and the telltale blue sign with a white wheelchair-bound figure (the International Symbol of Access).
ADA-Mandated Minimums for Handicapped Spaces in Parking Lots
Federally speaking, the ADA regulations for parking minimums apply to all public parking areas, from suburban malls to curb sides in center cities. However, state and local government have the authority to adopt and enforce their own building codes. Californians, for example, enjoy more parking for the disabled than most Americans, due to the state's mandate that the numbers used to calculate the ratio of regular versus accessible spots must include employee lots; the ADA excludes employee lots. And Florida requires that handicap spots be twelve, rather than nine, feet wide.
At the 20th anniversary of the ADA's passage into law in 2010, politicians noted that complying could place undue financial and spatial burdens on small businesses. When it comes to parking lots, however, neither issue has proven significant. Even in the largest lots, with 501-1000 parking spots, the required inclusion (seven standard accessible spaces and two van spaces) leads to a loss of just three regular spots. And because "installing" these spots is a simple matter of re striping, very little extra cost is involved. In addition, the U.S. government argues, that ADA parking for handicapped people actually brings in more customers for small businesses. According to its 2010 " ADA Update: Primer for Small Businesses":
"People with disabilities are living more independently and participating more actively in their communities. They and their families want to patronize businesses that welcome customers with disabilities. In addition, approximately 71.5 million baby boomers will be over age 65 by the year 2030 and will be demanding products, services, and environments that meet their age-related physical needs. Studies show that once people with disabilities find a business where they can shop or get services in an accessible manner, they become repeat customers."
More than 18 percent of Americans(50 million people) have some sort of disability.