A car parked next to the access aisle in a parking lot

The Access Aisle

From mobility awareness to access aisles. There are a number of seemingly small factors that can have negative consequences on heart failure. One of those is handicap parking access aisle violations.

What is an access aisle?

Did you know those striped lines adjacent to handicap parking actually have a purpose and name? No, it is not the designated area to return your shopping cart or to park a motorcycle. They are called the Access Aisle under the Americans with Disability Act (or ADA).1

The ADA describes the access aisles as “Accessible parking spaces must have access aisles. Access aisles provide a designated area for people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices to get in and out of their car or van. Mobility devices allow people with disabilities to move about independently. They include walkers, canes, crutches, braces, manual or power wheelchairs, Segways, and electric scooters.” 1

It is apparent that access aisles were intended to provide assistance with mobility devices. However, they are also beneficial for many living with disabilities. Although mobility devices are not always necessary, a number of disabilities can impair an individual’s ability to move about freely.1

Lack of awareness

I have observed motorcycles parked in the access aisle on four different occasions over the last 30 days alone. I even captured one blocking the accessible ramp and access aisle simultaneously. This can prevent access to those using mobility devices, and others walking with physical impairments.

I will be honest, I didn’t even know these lines had a name until I found myself in need of their use. As well, I am convinced that many motorcyclists are not aware they’re doing anything wrong either. Even still, I’ve found myself struggling to get in and out of my vehicle as a result of access aisle violations. When the access aisle is blocked by any object it can limit or prevent the opening of vehicle doors or the use of portable ramps.

Wanting to bring awareness to this issue I began capturing access aisle misuse to include in articles such as this. I even captured a shopping cart corral installed in a diagonal access aisle. It was clear that even those responsible for parking in the shopping plaza itself weren't aware of the access lane requirements. Sometimes it takes having a shared experience or knowing someone who does for many to show compassion, understanding, and proper use.

Access aisle violations impact on illnesses like heart failure

Some might ask what’s the big deal? Handicap spaces are not always available anyway.  However, access aisle misuse can negatively impact one’s illness. Imagine being short of breath, in chronic pain, using a walker or crutches then having to walk further due to inaccessible handicap parking.

Sudden onsets of shortness of breath have caused my use of handicap parking to fluctuate daily. There have been times that I had to drive around until a handicap space was available, or even return home and try later. That in itself can be stressful, and another example of how heart failure can limit my quality of life.

Spread the word

I have been told that I’m solution-oriented, and I’d agree (lol). Imagine if we all shared the hashtag #AccessAisleAwareness and this article with just one individual? We could actually incite the awareness and change that’s needed. So, what are you waiting for? :)

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Heart-Failure.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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