Raleigh rolls out handicap-accessible parking

Over the next two months, the City of Raleigh is creating 16 handicap-accessible parking spaces downtown, becoming downtown Raleigh’s first-ever on-street parking spaces for drivers with disabilities. Previously, handicap-accessible parking was only available in parking decks.

The first of these spots are being installed this month, and all of them will be rolled out by January 1. They will be located at popular downtown hubs, including the Raleigh City Hall, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the North Carolina Museum of History, the Raleigh Municipal Building, the Wake County Justice Center, and the Glenwood South District.

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act does not require on-street handicap-accessible parking, Raleigh previously allowed people with handicap signs in their vehicles to park anywhere on the street at no cost, regardless of meters. However, the new spots will be more accessible for people with disabilities. Drivers will be able to pay to reserve the spot for an indefinite period of time, and according to the City of Raleigh’s website, “All of the dedicated handicap parking spaces are located at the end of a metered zone, closest to the curb cuts for easier passenger side and rear discharge for wheelchair accessibility. Accessible on-street parking spaces will be located at the shortest and safest distance to get onto the sidewalk. Staff reviewed these spots to confirm that each have sufficient space for a lift to lower onto the sidewalk without any obstructions.”

The spaces are part of a one-year pilot program, says Raleigh’s Parking Administrator Matthew Currier. According to Ricky Scott, a member of the Raleigh Mayor’s Committee for Persons with Disabilities, the city will monitor the spots to make sure they are not misused. Any of the new parking spots that sit empty will be moved to a more trafficked location. “If there’s no utilization, that will be reassessed,” Scott stated. He also expects the number of parking spots to grow over time with an increasing number of drivers with disabilities visiting downtown Raleigh.

This is a big step for Raleigh in ensuring an accessible future for the city’s constantly-growing downtown.