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Wheelchair Users Unable To Pay Parking Fee With Credit Card

April 29, 2013 Featured, Midtown, Parking, Planning & Design 18 Comments

Just weeks before Tishaura Jones was sworn into the office of St. Louis Treasurer I posted about a problem with a city-owned parking lot on Olive (see Wheelchair Users Unable To Pay Parking Fee In City Parking Lot). In that post I showed how disabled drivers that use wheelchairs would be unable to pay the central machine.

ABOVE: However, those disabled drivers that use a wheelchair are unable to reach the payment machine because no ramp up was provided.
Disabled drivers that use a wheelchair are unable to reach the payment machine because no ramp up was provided.

At the time the city said they planned for the two disabled spaces to be free of charge, so disabled users didn’t need ADA-compliant access to the machine. The other night I noticed the city installed two old fashioned parking meters between the two disabled spaces.

The city's solution was two meters for the disabled spaces.
The city’s solution was two meters for the disabled spaces.

Problem solved, right? Wrong! This means those parking in the two disabled spots must carry coins to feed the parking meter while everyone else gets the option to pay by coin or credit card.

The pay-per-space machine accepts coins and credit cards, but not bills.
The pay-per-space machine accepts coins and credit cards, but not bills.

The city made an error and didn’t consider disabled users. Then in trying to fix their error on the cheap they created a problem of inequality.
— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "18 comments" on this Article:

  1. I Live My Life In A Wheelchair says:

    Get over it! We don’t live in a perfect world! If a ramp had been provided, you would have bitched that it would have been dangerous to use because of one reason or another–too close to vehicle traffic, too hidden from sight, too this, too that! Sometimes your positions are childish, and typically they are narrow-minded! You have a hard-on for Larry Williams, and it is obvious every time anything related to his office is discussed. And you appear to have zero tolerance for any human error. Ever hear about the guy who yelled “wolf” one time too many? You’re getting to that point, and you’re borderline losing all credibility! There are individual meters available that accept both coins and credit card, and I’m fairly certain that Ms. Jones can easily locate one and install it on the pole that has been provided. But all that takes time! There used to be a female advocate for the disabled who worked in City Hall, and she was flexible and reasonable. She accomplished more than you ever would with your unyielding approach! Grow up!

  2. RyleyinSTL says:

    I don’t understand how projects like this don’t get reviewed for ADA compliance during the design stage. Is ADA compliance voluntary in this instance? Its not just folks in a chair, some elderly or reduced mobility people have a hard time with large curbs like this….people that wouldn’t necessarily qualify for a ADA parking placard.

  3. Eric says:

    Up until a couple years ago, everyone had to pay with coins, apparently that wasn’t so terrible. The builders are putting in a great deal of money and effort for you, even if they make mistakes sometimes. So don’t make them into the enemy.

    • The problem here is separate and unequal. Able-bodied get a choice of coin or credit card while the disabled must use coin-only.

      • Eric says:

        It was already unequal, in the opposite direction. Disabled get parking spots even when the lot is full for everyone else. Sure, that is minor, but so is the issue of coin vs credit card. Demanding other people spend thousands of dollars to make an insignificant improvement makes many would-be allies frustrated at your absolutism and refusal to compromise.

        • The law requires a certain number of disabled spaces and the law requires equal access, in this case to credit card payment. The treasurer’s office under Larry Williams did a poor job designing the lot then they did a poor job fixing the mistake.

          • Eric says:

            Being a jerk is being a jerk even if it’s supported by the wording of the law.

          • So pointing out mistakes made by our government is being a jerk? Interesting viewpoint…

          • RyleyinSTL says:

            “Wording” is one of the things that make laws effective. If we don’t enforce the laws we have then they have no meaning and don’t accomplish anything. The ADA act is on the books for a damn good reason. Clearly the city doesn’t have the ability (or no interest) in trying to comply either literally, at the time of construction, or after the fact, in the spirit of the ADA act. Steve is filling a hole which local Government seems incapable of taking care of on its own.

            I feel like you’re the one of those guys who would be pissed off at a police officer for writing you up for a signal violation or running a stop sign. “Jerk constable, being a jerk, even if it’s supported by the wording of the law.”

          • Eric says:

            No, running a signal/stop sign is very dangerous. I might get annoyed if I got ticketed for going 1 mph over the speed limit. But officers don’t ticket for that, because they know it would hurt people a lot while doing little to help others. Same here.

  4. I Live My Life In A Wheelchair says:

    Didn’t the “problem of inequality” also exist when handicapped parking was FREE? Or does “inequality” exist only when the wheelchair-bound APPEAR to be inconvenienced or discriminated against? There are several more flagrant ADA issues in and around STL that need to be addressed, ones that make credit-card usage in a remote seldom-used parking lot a moot point! Bigger issues that I deal with daily include preserving my dignity when I’m forced to use a urinal (even one at ADA height) in a public restroom,

  5. Bryon says:

    The lesson was not learned. Point blank. Treating disabled people as an after thought once was not enough. They had to reprove the original point by doing it again.

    You cheat them and you get fines. They cheat you and that’s just fine. That’s b.s. and everybody knows it. But, that is the generally accepted mid set. Steve has every right to shine light on these things no matter who calls them trivial compared to some other dark spot they may have found somewhere else.

  6. Michael Bierman says:

    This is problem pure and simple, and Steve’s got an important point of view. But does it rise to the level of whether or not to spend oodles of money to have streetcar service in St. Louis? No. Maybe it’s just an issue of the blog design. Both get equal treatment. Maybe have a large area for big issues and a highlight area for smaller but significant complaints?

  7. JZ71 says:

    While I’m guessing that 99%+ of the people using the accessible parking spaces (and 90%+ of the ones using the regular spaces) were fine with letting people with disabilities pay nothing, versus having equal access to pay something, I’ll go down the “equality” route with you . . . since the accessible spaces are 50% bigger, drivers using them should pay more to rent that piece of real estate, much like how transit riders pay a premium for ADA-mandated call-a-ride services. And, taking it a step further, retailers should provide accessible vehicles (modified to meet any particular customer’s unique needs) at no extra charge, whether they’re selling new or used vehicles.

    I know that you love your pay stations – I don’t. I’d much rather keep a stash of quarters and feed an individual meter than to deal with the bigger hassles of pay stations. With a meter, if it’s broken, you’re only out one or two coins. With a pay station, if you get one part of the equation wrong (like the space number), you’re on the hook for the full amount. And if the system uses printed receipts, there’s multiple ways to have them not visible to enforcement staff. The only two advantages pay stations offer (currently, in St. Louis) is the ability to pay with credit or debit cards (assuming you have one with you) and they don’t clutter up the urban streetscape in the same way individual or paired meters do.

  8. Simon Nogin says:

    This infuriates me. Mistakes happen, I screw up all the time. But to cover up your mistakes just to save face, that is disrespectful. Why do public officials think this is a good way to deal with situations? You’re lying to the people who elected you – to represent them – and assuming the public has an inferior intelligence. I never understood how public officials think this is good public relations.


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