Sat, Jul 30, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Parking changes incense disabled

CONCESSION?A Taipei official said that disabled drivers can apply for eight hours of free parking at public lots that are within 500m of their workplace

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

Members of the League of Welfare Organizations for the Disabled protest to Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

A group of disabled residents yesterday protested against a new policy by the Taipei City Government which limits free parking for disabled individuals to four hours a day, urging the city to stop the policy and discuss the matter with them.

More than 20,000 roadside parking spaces throughout the city have been provided for free to disabled drivers since 1989. The new policy, which takes effect on Monday, will limit free parking for disabled people to four hours. Motorists with parking permits for disabled people will be required to pay parking fees starting from the fifth hour.

Chanting “Wrong policy. Mandatory order,” several dozen wheelchair-bound protesters gathered outside a meeting room at Taipei City Hall, saying that Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and the city’s Department of Transportation were punishing the disabled with the new policy.

“[The policy] is a cruel solution to the problem of parking spaces for disabled drivers being over-occupied and it’s not fair to punish all disabled people because a small group abuse their rights,” said Lin Chun-chieh (林君潔), secretary-general of Independent Living Association, a group that advocates for the rights of the disabled.

The city says the policy is aimed at increasing the rate of turnover for roadside parking spaces and preventing permit holders from occupying spaces for lengthy periods of time because they are free.

However, Lin said the new policy would disproportionately harm those who need it most need, because while non-physically handicapped permit holders might be able to easily move their vehicle to another spot after four hours, people with physical handicaps would be forced to pay for their parking.

Department Commissioner Jason Lin (林志盈) defended the new measure as he met the protesters, insisting that the department was trying to make more parking spaces available for disabled drivers.

Those who park within 500m of their workplace can apply for eight hours of free parking at public parking lots, he said.

The comments failed to calm the protesters, who urged the city government to extend free parking to 24 hours.

The commissioner said the department would not make any changes to the new policy, but would evaluate the policy every six months after implementation and invite groups representing the disabled to discuss the issue.

Hau later also met the protesters, but did not promise to halt implementation of the policy.

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