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Bill would regulate size of handicapped parking spaces

March 05, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

ANNAPOLIS -- Sen. Alex X. Mooney is sponsoring legislation that requires handicapped parking spaces to be the same size as regular parking spaces.

Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, filed the bill after learning from Frederick County Commission on Disabilities member Gil House that there often were inequities in the size of the spaces. Mooney's bill would only apply to new parking lots built after October or to existing lots that are relined.

Under current regulations, accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities - known as handicapped parking spaces - must be at least 8 feet wide, with an access aisle that is at least 5 feet wide.

In a letter to the Frederick County delegation, House said standard parking spaces in Frederick County are 9 feet wide, so handicapped spaces often are smaller than other spaces.

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Mooney said he was told that handicapped parking spaces in some parking lots are the correct size but are still smaller than regular parking spaces. His bill would allow handicapped spaces to be larger than or the same size as regular spaces.

Peggy Martin, chairwoman of the Washington County Disability Advisory Committee, said what actually is needed is better regulation of laws already on the books. She said many people in Washington County abuse handicapped parking tags or park illegally in handicapped spaces.

Martin said Mooney's bill falls under the transportation code, blocking police from enforcing its stipulations. She said she also was concerned the bill does not include any consequences for those who break those laws.

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