Handicap parking consist of the extra-wide parking spaces next to ramps and doors. A handicap parking space is (in the US, at least) marked by a blue curb. Often there's also a symbol with a stick figure in a wheelchair painted on the ground as well. Usually the state specfies that a commercial space needs to have so many handicap parking spaces based on the size and capacity of that commerical space.

Non-handicapped people parking in handicap spots are subject to heavy fines and having their cars towed.

Sometimes when I take my grandmother places, I park in a handicap spot. This always makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Especially when she can't walk back to the car with me and everyone sees this seemingly healthy, young guy get into the car by himself.

whizkid: Here in California we too have parking permits. They're blue and made of some kind of plastic that curls in the sunlight. It's just that out here, fraud is so prevalent and parking is so scarce, I get dirty looks from strangers even when my grandmother is hanging off of my arm.

But I do agree with you, disabled parking is a very great and beneficial boon for those who need it.

I don't know about other States, but in Wisconsin, we get disabled parking permits that we hang on the rear-view mirror.

Whenever someone drives me in his car, I take the permit with me, so he can park in the disabled spot without worrying. If your grandmother has one of those, ask her for it when you drive her.

In Wisconsin the permit also allows me to park on a metered street without putting any money into the meter. This is very nice, because when I cannot walk well, I can just drive the car to the next place and park near it without having to insert a coin into three-four meters (where a regular person would just park at one place and walk to the rest).

Before I got the permit, I felt like a prisoner. I could not drive to Wal*Mart or the grocery store, except late in the evening when few cars were parked there. That simply because I was unable to walk the distance. Now, I can go anywhere at any time, and it is truly great!

eric+ I'm sorry to hear about the dirty looks.

A disability is not always visible. For example, people with serious asthma can get a permit simply because walking too much may trigger an asthma attack. Parking within a short distance of wherever they go prevents that from happening, so they appear perfectly healthy even if they are not.

Everyone, please, do not give dirty looks to people who you think should not be parking in disabled spots - you never know what disability that person may have.

It is, by the way, a real pain to be navigating through a grocery store in a wheelchair and people not noticing you, shoving their shopping carts out of their way, right into yours! So, if you can walk, please do not leave your shopping carts in places that can block a wheelchair.

I personally hate asking people to move their cart, so often end up waiting for several minutes before they unblock my way.

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