Pregnancy Parking?

When I was at Google HQ this past summer I was struck by a few parking signs that said: “Expecting Mothers.” For some reason, I read it as for being for people who were waiting to pick up their mothers. Maybe it’s because we have nothing of this sort in NYC (at least that I’ve seen).

In any case, I was reminded of this by a recent dispatch from Kentucky:

Should pregnant women and new parents be afforded the same parking privileges as those with disabilities? It’s an issue that is stirring up controversy in the Commonwealth.

Earlier this week, House Speaker Greg Stumbo filed a bill that would allow pregnant women and parents with children under the age of one year the opportunity to utilize the same parking spaces as those with physical disabilities.

The idea does not sit well with the Baker family of Paris. They have a son with cerebral palsy and they rely on handicapped parking spaces, especially since they need room to operate a wheelchair lift. They say it’s already difficult to find available parking spaces. Furthermore, they’re not convinced that all pregnant women and new moms are in need of such accommodations.

Karen Baker says she does not have a problem with women who have been labeled as having high-risk pregnancies or those who have limited mobility gaining access to handicapped spaces. However, she does not feel that pregnancy is a true handicap.

“The (parking spaces) were designed for people with disabilities and for the safe entry and exit of their vehicle,” she said.

The Baker’s say they would be a little more open to the idea if more spots were created to accommodate new moms and moms-to-be. However, at this point, the bill does not include such a measure.

Is it me, or is this more than just a bit silly? Before you accuse me of insensitivity, my wife is well into her pregnancy and routinely walking fairly good distances around the city (longer than your average schlep in the Trader Joe’s parking lot). Most parking lots have too much capacity to begin with, and so adding extra spaces that will likely sit empty much of the time (except maybe at Pea in the Pod or some such) for a marginal social benefit seems highly inefficient.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 20th, 2009 at 3:50 pm and is filed under Parking. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

8 Responses to “Pregnancy Parking?”

  1. Shanana Says:

    People with temporary disabilities (broken leg, etc) already have a means to get a temporary handicap parking permit. Seems like pregnant women that feel a need to use handicap parking could go through the same channels.

  2. will Says:

    This is silly. Pregnancy by itself is not a disability. Light exercise such as walking will do the fetus good.

  3. Karl-On-Sea (Twitter: @karlonsea) Says:

    Not sure exactly how it’s arranged in the US, but in the UK I think there are mandatory requirements for car parks (parking lots) to have a certain proportion of disabled parking allocation – wider bays for easier access / wheelchair use, and closest to the shop entrance. Many stores also have Parent & Child parking bays, which have many of the same characteristics. Basically, you can use these with toddlers / any child that’ll fit in the shopping trolley’s child seat.

    The thing that’s always puzzled me though is that the Parent & Child bays are also really near the shop entrance – treating having a child as somehow just as challenging as being physically disabled. From my own experience, it’s nice to be able to use the bay right near the entrance, but I’m not convinced it’s fair – on other drivers in general, or the disabled drivers whose spaces sometimes get the overspill of yummy mummies’ cars. Hmmmm.

  4. Peter Says:

    Here in Ontario (Canada) many stores have expectant/new mother parking spaces in addition to handicapped spaces. The handicapped spaces are still closest to the door, still wider for easier access, and not reduced in number. I don’t know that they’re required by law because not everywhere has them, but the more family oriented stores (grocery, malls, toy stores etc.) are more likely to have them as a convenience to their customers. Because of this, they’re usually filled and don’t really take away from the available parking for everyone else.

    My wife was resistant to using them until well into her pregnancy, but now with new-born twins they’re very much appreciated.

  5. Marla Says:

    As Peter says, here in Ontario, spaces for expectant mothers and families are a courtesy and are in addition to spaces for the disabled – and are often a welcome bonus, especially in inclement weather. While pregnancy isn’t a disability, it is a physical condition that in the late stages means crossing a slippery parking lot is difficult, and any opportunity to minimize that is welcome. Sure – I was incredibly active and glowing and all that up until my daughter was due, late one February five years ago. Heck, I walked to and from work each day, about 40 minutes each way, aside from working retail. But slipping on some ice and having to spend the time being monitored after the subsequent check-up was (heh) laborious, and so minimizing risk after that was a priority. Then, in the early days, having a shorter distance to lug a sleeping baby in a car seat (and purchases) is more than helpful; and as the parent of a small walking child, not having to walk through a parking lot lugging parcels while dealing with a child who is below a driver’s sightline is a relief. My friends with more than one child find that having shorter distances to guide the older ones through and dealing with bags, cart returns and kids in car seats is easier if they’re not all out in left field. Are there any studies that show how it seems that cars seem to whip through the outer reaches of parking lots, ignoring lanes and cutting through spaces – but seem to slow down and pay attention where there’s a hope of a close space and more foot traffic near a store?

    I would never suggest that pregnant women or new parents take spaces away from the disabled, and wish a pox on people who misuse them – but stores with the ability to offer preferred parking to the people who make the larger percentage of purchasing decisions in the family and who pump a lot of money into their stores are smart. They are almost never empty in the places we frequent, and it’s not a marginal social benefit. It’s a low-cost incentive with a great return for stores – and I suspect you’ll find that those who are not either hugely pregnant or the parents who need them are the ones complaining about them. And personally, I prefer the stores that provide them because I think they’re helping to comfort overwhelmed and tired moms and keep their future customers safe. But, perhaps your opinion or perspective will change over time – you’re not insensitive just as the spots aren’t silly. You’re just not a very uncomfortable pregnant woman or someone who really appreciates the convenience of those spaces.

  6. John Says:

    Whenever I hear about stories like this, I think of the Pixar movie “The Incredibles” where they said several times “when everyone is special, then no one is special”. Let’s issue disabled permits to EVERYONE shall we? I don’t agree pregnant women should have carte blanche parking privileges. Pregnant women aren’t helpless. If their doctor believes their particular pregnancy is problematic, then issue a temporary disabled parking permit.

    Some shopping centers offer parking for expectant moms, but admit it’s unenforceable (they can’t prevent others from parking in those spots) and refuse to tow any cars that violate it.

  7. Vagabondblogger Says:

    At the Big Y Supermarket in CT, a designated area, in the top part of the parking rows closest to the entrance (but just after the disabled spots), are designated for families with young children. I can understand that, but not special parking for pregnant women. If you’re under orders of bed rest – then stay there. If you work throughout your pregnancy (as some of us did) then a bit of walking can’t possibly hurt.

  8. Lyndell Says:

    Where’s the expectant father’s parking?

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