Most cities and towns in Minnesota require snow to be cleared from sidewalks and paths following a snowfall. The time businesses have to remove snow may be shorter than that given to residential dwellings. Minnesotans deal with snow piles every year, so most of us know this.
Businesses and other property owners have another lesser-known responsibility: to keep disability parking spaces and access aisles free from obstructions. In the winter, these obstructions include plowed snow. The Minnesota Council on Disability receives dozens of reports of snow piled up in disability parking spaces and access aisles. The access aisle is the “no parking zone” next to a disability parking space. For people who use disability parking, the access aisle is just as important as the space itself. People use this area to deploy wheelchair lifts and other adaptations from their vehicles. Without a clear access aisle, many folks who use disability parking would not be able to exit their vehicles.
It is against the law to place anything in the access aisle. A business or property owner could be fined up to $500 and be guilty of a misdemeanor for allowing snow, or anything else, to block disability parking spaces. This includes the access aisle. Local law enforcement is responsible for warning and fining business and property owners.
If you come across anything – including plowed snow – in any part of a disability parking space, call your local law enforcement. Request that they enforce this vital law. A law that allows folks with disabilities to be independent and to participate in society. Disability parking spaces and the laws that uphold them are among the most basic civil rights for people with disabilities.
Disability parking spaces and access aisles must remain free from obstructions. To learn more about snow removal and disability parking laws, feel free to contact us at any time.