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Disabled parking doesn't have to be close-in

Since you asked

I have noticed lately that handicapped parking spaces are getting farther and farther away from the entrances of businesses. Examples: At Black Oak Pharmacy, the handicapped parking is so far away, that anyone having to walk would have a real problem. Another example is the Talent Wal-Mart, where the handicapped parking is also too far away. Could you please find out how they decide to place these parking areas?

' Kathy M., Medford

The quick answer, Kathy, is that while stores and other businesses are legally required to provide parking spaces for disabled customers, there are no rules governing where those spaces are placed.

That's according to Kim Jackson, vice president of the International Parking Institute based in Fredericksburg, Va.

Most people try to get it as close as possible, but there is no requirement that says the space has to be in the front of the building, Jackson said.

In fact, Jackson adds, many businesses choose not to place parking spaces for disabled clients in the most prominent places to make access easier. Traffic patterns are often busiest near the front of buildings or around driveway entrances, which might create dangerous situations for disabled motorists trying to get to and from vehicles, she said.

At the same time, requirements outlined by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act are quite clear about the size and number of designated spaces.

Standard spaces consist of a 9-foot parking space with a 6-foot-wide aisle. Universal spaces require an 11-foot parking space with a 5-foot-wide aisle. In general, there must be at least one designated disabled parking space for every 25 spaces in a lot.

Send questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to . We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.