There’s a big problem with people illegally parking in handicap spots and taking those spaces away from people who truly need them across the state of Colorado.
Almost 10 percent of the population in Colorado has a mobility issue, but a business is only required to reserve 2 percent of its parking spaces for them.
Chris Hinds has been working hard to fight this issue after his life completely changed in 2008.
“I was a runner and a soccer player for most of my life,” said Hinds.
He was in a terrible car accident that injured his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed.
Despite the challenge, Hinds said he is thankful to have seen both sides of the mobility issue because he believes his eyes are opened to things he never thought about before.
“There’s an awareness gap. Before my accident I didn’t know anything about disabled parking spaces, or the particular challenges someone with a mobility impairment has,” said Hinds.
He’s not alone.
Hinds is now an advocate with the Colorado Advisory Council for People with Disabilities , and their research found more than 30 percent of drivers don’t know it's illegal to park in disabled spots.
Even more don't know you can’t leave carts in the yellow hashed access zones.
“They don’t care!” said Chester Roberts.
Almost everyone polled has reported seeing parking space abuse, and Roberts knows the problems first-hand.
“Somewhere around 8 a.m. when everyone is going to work that’s when they park in here. And in the afternoon somewhere around 5 p.m., ‘we’re just going to run in and grab something real quick,’” said Roberts.
With a half-a-million dollars from taxpayers, the Colorado Advisory Council for People with Disabilities is putting new signs out in hopes of making people think twice before illegally taking a spot.
We’re all used to the standard blue signs, but they may not pack the same punch as the new signs that actually showing a person who needs the spot.
“It’s universally recognized, but because it’s universally recognized it doesn’t have a personal element,” said Hinds.
Arvada was the first city in Colorado to install the signs, and citations for illegally parking in disabled spots are down 50 percent since this awareness campaign started.
Hundreds of signs are now installed around the state, and the council is now working to get other businesses on board to display the signs.
“We hope to start a conversation for people so that they don’t have to,” said Hinds.
If you would like to learn more about the Colorado Advisor Council for People with Disabilities or find out how to get a parking sign for your own business visit their website at www.coloradodisabilitycouncil.org .