Under the Design of Public Spaces Standard of the AODA, cities and other organizations building or reconstructing on-street or off-street parking spaces must make those spaces accessible to visitors with disabilities who hold accessible parking permits. Some people with permits will drive themselves, while others will drive with family or friends. Moreover, some people need accessible spaces because they use mobility aids and need more room to enter and exit their vehicles. In contrast, other people need accessible spaces close to the places they are going to because they cannot walk long distances.
On-Street and Off-Street Parking
There are different rules for accessible on-street and off-street parking. On-street parking areas are spaces for temporary parking located on highways or streets. Off-street parking areas are lots or buildings where people can park temporarily. Rules for on-street spaces apply to public sector organizations, while rules for off-street spaces apply to all organizations.
Accessible On-Street Parking
Before creating on-street parking spaces, organizations must consult with the public and people with disabilities. They should find out how many spaces to make, where they should be, and how they should be designed. Cities creating parking spaces must also consult with their municipal accessibility advisory committees.
Accessible Off-Street Parking
There are two types of accessible off-street parking spaces:
Type A has a wider parking space and has signage that identifies the space as “van accessible”. These spaces are for people using larger mobility devices, such as wheelchairs or scooters, who need more space to enter or exit vehicles.
Type B has a standard parking space. These spaces are for people who do not need extra space because they do not use mobility devices or they use smaller devices, such as canes or crutches.
Moreover, organizations must provide signage indicating where all their accessible spaces are. In addition, off-street spaces must include access aisles, or space between parking spaces, so that people have enough room to enter and exit their vehicles. Access aisles on paved surfaces should have high-contrast diagonal lines painted on them to show visitors that they should not use the aisles as extra parking spaces. Organizations with unpaved parking may use extra signage to make this distinction clear.
The number of accessible parking spaces facilities should have varies. Facilities with more total parking spaces will need more accessible spaces than organizations with fewer total spaces. Furthermore, organizations may need different amounts of Type A and Type B spaces. The numbers listed in the Standard outline the minimum guidelines organizations must follow to provide accessible parking. However, organizations may increase the amount of accessible spaces they offer.
Exceptions to Off-Street Parking Accessibility
Under the standard, a few types of off-street parking spaces do not need to be accessible. Some of these exceptions cover parking for vehicles that are not privately-owned cars, such as:
- Delivery vehicles
- Police and ambulances
In addition, parking spaces do not need to be accessible if the path leading to them is not barrier-free. Furthermore, organizations with more than one parking facility at the same location only need to make spaces accessible in one facility.
Why do we Need Accessible Parking Spaces?
As the population ages, more and more people will have accessible parking permits and need spaces to park in. Accessible parking spaces allow all people to drive wherever they need to go, independently or with loved ones.