Parking in Chapel Hill is already a stressful and difficult undertaking. But for the town’s disabled and low-income residents? It’s a nightmare.
Take disabled veteran Darice Johnson. In an interview with The Daily Tar Heel, she noted how she began to avoid the downtown Chapel Hill area — “that whole 10 block radius” — because of the traffic congestion and plethora of pedestrians that make parking challenging and stressful for her.
And while there are parking spots available, the issue for disabled individuals is that they are rarely close to buildings. While most can park in a less accessible spot and walk to their location, these spots leave disabled residents at a disadvantage.
Dwight Bassett, who serves as director of economic development and parking services for the Town of Chapel Hill, said in an interview with the DTH that the Town is currently abiding by all state laws regarding Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
But, many disabled residents say there should be additional and more accessible options.
Communication with the disabled community is essential, and yet the Chapel Hill government has been slow to act when it comes to helping specific members of their community. Plans to eliminate factors working against disabled residents might be in effect, but won’t make a difference overnight.
It's imperative for the Town administration to consult and work with disabled communities to identify areas of improvement for parking accessibility, and to make it a priority — especially with there being new development in the area. However, this also leads to separate issues.
Not only is parking not accessible — it's also not affordable.
The Town of Chapel Hill offers about approximately 12 off-street parking locations, each of which cost $1.50 per hour, while on-street parking costs $1.75 per hour.