Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.

Parking Configurations for a Person with Disabilities

By: Tom Davis Category: Parking

rI was sent a very insightful email with reasons why one parking configuration, angle-in, has advantages to those with disabilities over the more common parallel style. Everyone that works on improving the streets and street scape struggle with getting the required slopes, widths and surface textures in the right places. We also include handicap parking spaces where we can and too often it is a parallel space adapted to meet the dimensions.  When I received an email with the pros and cons for a parking style I realized after all these years I still did not totally anticipate the experience of a person with disabilities. I offer it here as I believe it may help others.

The text below came to me in an email from Kayte Tipton, City of Houston’s Director of the Department of Neighborhoods based on input from Elaine Roberts who works with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and Houston Commission on Disabilities of the City of Houston.


1.       Persons with disabilities who have limited upper body strength and/or who have limited range of motion can have great difficulty parallel parking because they cannot bend and turn as needed to successfully parallel park.  These same individuals can often easily  park in an angled, drive in parking space;

CIMG9732.JPG2.       Persons with visual disabilities often have difficulty with peripheral vision or space judgment.  Therefore, parallel parking can be very  difficult for them.  In contrast, a  person with a visual disability  can often park more easily in an angled, drive in space because it does not  require as much spatial or peripheral vision;

3.       Persons in wheel chairs need to have a path of travel which does not require them to travel behind other cars or go into the street to get to get to an accessible ramp.   With angled parking, there is usually adequate space near the driver’s  side of the car  for installation of a safe accessible route of travel to the ramp area.CIMG9738.JPG  Thus, a person in a wheel chair can  exit the car from the angled parking space without having to travel either behind the car or go into the street.  However,  with parallel parking, it is often difficult to place a fully, accessible route near  the driver’s side of the car. As a result, the driver with a disability then has to either travel behind other cars or go into the street in order to get to a wheel chair ramp. This can pose a safety risk for a person in a wheel chair; and

4.       SoCIMG9736.JPGme of the newer models of accessible vans have wheel chair lifts in the back of the van.  Angled, drive in parking spaces allow the person to lower the wheel chair lift in the back without space problems.  In contrast, parallel spaces usually are close together and do not allow sufficient space between two parallel parked cars to lower the rear wheel chair lifts safely.

So although parallel parking spaces can typically be placed closer together than angled, drive in spaces, they are not as easy for persons with certain disabilities to use.


I am proud that the City and HDMD’s Cotswold Project, that I was part of, added many angle-in handicap spaces in Houston.


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