Updated Fri, Feb 28, 2014 11:40 am
Ohio University has finally purchased handicap-parking signs that are now in compliance with national and state law.
The city of Athens has updated their signs several years ago. After nearly two years of pushing the initiative from the Athens Disabilities Commission, the university has purchased the parking signs as well. However the proper signage has yet to be installed.
Ohio University spokeswoman Katie Quaranta confirmed that process to replace the signs on campus is underway.
“The University has purchased handicap parking signs to replace non-compliant signage on campus,” she said in an email. “The snow and cold temperatures have delayed the installation of the signs, but Facilities will do that work once the weather improves.”
The updated parking signs have been apart of the Federal Highway Administration regulations since 1978. Those regulations then trickle down to the state level at the Ohio Revised Code under the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
Enforcement technicalities have been an issue with the lack of updated signs on campus. Although the old blue and white parking signs state a 250-dollar fine for violations, they are still noncompliant for enforceability.
Steve Patterson, city council member and Athens Disabilities Commission chair said the new green and white signs are in compliant with the law and violators can be fined.
“Those are an enforceable space. In other words, they carry a penalty with them if someone is illegally parked in that space,” Patterson said. “The only way to have an enforceable sign is to have an up to date sign. “
More changes could occur in the future to make parking spaces even more accessible. Plains resident and member of the Athens Disabilities Commission Robin Brigante travels by van. She said that making parking spots bigger or allowing for more van accessible sports would be beneficial.
“It takes the whole eight feet for my ramp to come down and my wheelchair to come off of the ramp and to have the time to maneuver around takes the full eight feet, which is required for a van accessible parking spot, Brigante said.”
Brigante has pushed for more van-accessible parking spots in the city for about three years. She said her biggest pet peeve is people that don’t have vans who park in the van spaces.
“Part of the issues for me leaving my classes this semester had to do with parking not being available for me,” she said. Without the appropriate parking, along with other needs that people with disabilities have, it makes it hard for us to get around.”
Currently in the city of Athens there is only one van-only parking spot. Patterson explains that allowing more van-only parking spaces would decrease the overall amount of individual handicap-accessible parking spots.
“One of the things that have been kicked around is the possibility of revisiting what ADA (American Disabilities Act) says the ratio should be in terms of accessible parking spaces,” Patterson said. “For example if you have one-thousand parking spaces, two percent of those spaces are designated accessible parking spaces. Could there be a percentage of those that could become van parking only?”
However, Patterson said these ideas are in the very preliminary stage for the future.