Jeff Humphrey, Media Content Coordinator, 509.625.6308
Friday, December 29, 2017 at 3:39 p.m.
Rick McCord’s job is to make sure disabled people can find parking when they need it.
The officer with the City of Spokane Parking Services patrols shopping areas large and small and recently stopped a driver parked in a disabled stall at a local grocery store.
“Hi, I’m Officer McCord and I’m checking disabled parking today,” McCord said by way of introduction.
The man stepped out of the car and told McCord his disabled parking placard was in his backpack. When he pulled it out, McCord had other questions for the motorist.
“And who is this issued to?” McCord inquired. “Uh, Mike I believe,” the man replied.
“So you are utilizing his placard to park in a disabled spot?” McCord asked to confirm the driver was not disabled.
When it became apparent no one in the car was authorized to use the disabled placard McCord issued the owner of the illegally parked vehicle a $450 ticket.
During the course of his job McCord hears a lot of excuses for why people park in disabled spots they are not entitled to use.
The most common alibi drivers offer is, they only intended to be parked in the stall for just a few minutes.
“Yea, we don’t accept that excuse because they are putting their needs ahead of the disabled community,” said McCord.
Brett Bunge hasn’t let his life-long disability get in his way. In fact, the doors really began to open for Bunge when got his driver’s license.
“My car is the key to my independence. I use it to get to work. I use it to get to and from personal errands. I use it to transport people,” Bunge said proudly.
You would never even know Bunge has cerebral palsy from the way get gets around town, but his mobility can screech to a halt when it comes to parking.
“I do know that accessible parking placards do tend to be misused and accessible spaces tend to be misused. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen somebody park in a crosshatch or take up an accessible spot with a motorcycle,” lamented Bunge.
Bunge doesn’t need a parking spot as much as he needs lots of room around his car.
“The space that I need to offload my wheel chair is probably the most important part of my transportation,” explained Bunge.
That space is supposed to be reserved by blue crosshatches on the pavement but sometimes other drivers encroach on those loading zones and block access to Bunge’s van.
Bunge recalls, “I went to the event and I returned and there was a car parked so close, not only could I not get my wheel chair in, I could not even able to make it to my door. There was that little space.”
“What it comes down to is, educating people about the proper use of these spots,” Bunge concluded.
McCord says he sees more parking violations when the weather turns cold and wet and more people are out shopping for the holidays.
“And with that and the extreme congestion, it certainly makes it more tempting for people to just pop right in and they try to use the spot real quickly,” said McCord.
That’s why McCord even works the late into the night. His swing-shift schedule allows McCord to make sure disabled parking spots are available for the people who need them 24/7.