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The Parking Racket

Love me this AP news story about hipper-than-you-n-me Portland, OR.

Seems like city leaders have a little problem on their hands.disabledparking

The profusion of blue disabled parking placards has caused two crimps:

  1. Parking meter revenue.
  2. Parking spaces on city streets.

Call me a meany, but there are a couple of questions that LEAP out at me. I get it: mobility-challenged folks should certainly be allowed to park CLOSE to where they are trying to go.

But why do they get to leave their cars there all day?

And why shouldn’t they have to pay for it?

Fine—offer disabled folks a discount, as a disability could limit income and cost more in terms of equipment and health care. But parking with no skin in the game for absolutely free?

Lastly, I’m all for gettin’ myself out of the business of determining eligibility for these doggone things. People plead with their doc/NP/PA to sign off on their disability. Sometimes it’s legit; but I gotta say, sometimes it’s a bit of a stretch.

Now, I want to help my patients. But I don’t like being asked to fib professionally.

Why not let a jury of regular working people determine who should be eligible for placards?

I’ll be the first to admit: other than common sense plus a dollop of doctor-ese, I have no special knowledge of one’s need to park close. Or free. Or all day.

I hereby am announcing my candidacy for Mayor of Portland. Hold on. Better check the residency requirement first. Then again, maybe my doctor can write me a note.

5 Comments

  1. I don’t know about Portland, but around here there are many unused blue spaces. It used to bug me that there were so many. So I decided to join them. Now I have blue cards for Montana and Alaska. Do you think you could get me one for Oklahoma and Cleveland? Bill R

  2. First, it’s common practice in places other than Portland to allow handicapped people to park for free and for longer than other people, typically double the normal meter time, thought this varies.

    While I realize that there is some abuse, some of us actually NEED to park close, and it’s not always obvious from looking at us.
    For example, me. I am youngish and have Multiple Sclerosis. Sometimes I walk normally, sometimes I need a cane. On my more normal days, people can’t see my disability, but it’s still there, I still feel it. I cannot walk far, so I still need the close spot.
    Should it be free? I think so. I rely on a fixed income from my insurance company and have to pay people to do things that healthy people do for themselves. Plus I pay about 40% of my income for out of pocket medical expenses.
    Sometimes, I can’t even drive myself, but having a car does make things much easier when I can use it. I went without one for a while and the logisitcs of getting around was harder on my condition.

    Healthy people don’t really get it, I know because I used to be one of you. But really, to see this kind of attitude on a medical blog is disheartening.

    • glasshospital

      September 22, 2013 at 10:56 am

      You’re not alone in the negative reaction to this post.
      I am writing a follow up to apologize for the tone and the implications.
      I certainly never meant to imply that disabled people shouldn’t be able to park closer to their destination. My policy question was simply to ask if it makes the most sense to allow those with placards to park free and without limit.

      What I was TRYING to say in the post is that Portland seemed to have created a crisis of its own doing, by enacting public policy that seems unwise–mostly because it relies on physicians to be the arbiters of who can have a placard and who can’t.

      • How many employers require a doctor’s note for extended time off? Or too many classes missed in school? The point of the post I think most definitely was targeting this dilemma physicians are put in far too often. Physicians shouldn’t be given a get out of jail free card to hand over to their patients, nor should they have to be burdened with justifying a disability. How about letting a patient get a copy of their own medical record and provide that as documentation to the government agent who processes the parking pass? If only we had access to our own medical records… Or, we could simply all be adults and rely on the honor system and make it a misdemeanor for any one who obviously abuses the system so as to not create a huge burden on everyone else. My Kid is turning 4 in a couple months, do you think my physician will take on the magic show?

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