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Huge jump in parking spaces for disabled

05-20-2010 09:35 BJT

BEIJING, May 20 -- Roadside parking spaces for disabled drivers will jump dramatically from just 40 to more than 1,000 by the end of this year.

Plans by the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau call for making those spots available this year, although no timetable has been announced.

City regulations say that 2 per cent of parking spaces has to be reserved for the disabled, so with Beijing having 64,000 curbside parking spaces, there should be at least 1,280 disabled spaces, Beijing Evening News said.

Zhuang Li, 47, who works at the Beijing Disabled Persons Federation, is one of the first people in Beijing to have obtained a disabled driving license. He told METRO that parking has always been a big headache.

"There's never a reserved parking space for me when I go to the supermarket. Either they are all taken up by non-disabled drivers, or there are no such preferences for us at all," Zhuang said.

"I always have to compete with others for a place to squeeze in, which can be very far from the entrance."

Zhang said it is the same with parking in his neighborhood. With no space reserved for the disabled, he has to leave his car on the roadside like his neighbors.

The Beijing One Plus One Cultural Exchange Center says it is only at places such as the airport and large shopping malls that people with disabilities can find parking space reserved. The center is an NGO created and run by people with disabilities, aimed at promoting equal and sustainable opportunities for the disabled in China.

Xie Yan, its director, said most public places do not have reserved parking spots because the number of disabled drivers in Beijing is very low.

"But I believe this number will definitely increase quickly as disabled people have, since April 1, been able to apply for driving licenses.

"So it is necessary to bring in such parking spaces as soon as possible."

Xie said while some public parking lots have some disabled spaces, they usually put bars or something similar in front of them, preventing anyone from using them without asking security men for help.

"It is really inconvenient for me. Normally I would just look for somewhere else," he said.

Li Huanlin, a press official of the China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF), welcomed the plan to add more disabled spaces.

"As more and more handicapped people get driving licenses and hit the road, more parking spaces need to be reserved," Li said.

An officer surnamed Wang at CDPF's communications department told METRO that since April 1, more than 300 disabled people have registered for driving tests, and more than 100 have passed.

"We're very glad to see that disabled people are now allowed to drive," Wang said.

"Recently, the government allocated 250 specially made mini-vans that allow wheelchairs on board to neighborhoods for disabled people to without charge."

(Source: China Daily)

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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