Cities Ending Free Parking for Drivers With Handicapped Tags

Go to just about any big U.S. city and you might see able-bodied drivers getting out of their cars and walking away without paying the meter. Often, they get away with it by hanging a blue, handicapped tag off their rear-view mirror.

The abuse is not new — but increasingly, the free ride is coming to an end.

Portland, Ore., is the latest city to make drivers pay to park, even if they have a handicapped tag. Supporters say the move prevents drivers — handicapped, and able-bodied — from overusing parking spots, not to mention ending the fraudulent use of handicapped tags. But disability advocates and others say it’s just unfair to those who are truly disabled.

“People who have a disability normally will have additional expenses that are associated with the disability,” said Bob Joondeph, of Disability Rights Oregon. “They may have to spend extra money in order to get health care. They may need to spend extra money to have their car retrofitted.”

But Portland City Councilman Steve Novick said: “When you make something free, you really encourage people to use it, and in this case overusing spaces intended for short-term turnover.”