Where Are the Handicapped Parking Spots?

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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It’s nice when a negative experience can be turned into one that’s positive.

I think that’s the result for a wheelchair-using MS patient following a problem she had at the Mall of America a few days before the Super Bowl. For those not familiar with the Mall of America, it’s a huge shopping mall just outside Minneapolis, Minnesota. Its promotional fact sheet says that the mall covers 5.6 million square feet, or as much as nine Yankee Stadiums, 10 Great Pyramids, 24 Sydney Opera Houses, or 53 Eiffel Towers.

The Super Bowl was in Minneapolis. Both football teams playing in the Super Bowl were staying in hotels at the mall, and a lot of special events also were scheduled, making the shopping center super-crowded. Because of that, the mall blocked off some parking spots near an entrance.

Among the spots that were blocked were several handicapped spaces. And when this MS patient looked for a van-accessible spot to park, she couldn’t find one. She wound up parking in a standard width spot and exiting the van through its rear door, rather than the one on the side. That meant she had to roll into a lane of moving cars and then drive alongside them to get to the entrance that she wanted to use. When she finally got into the mall and complained about the situation, she says a security guard told her the mall is private property and it can do what it wants. Needless to say, she was upset. Like many of us do when we’re upset, she vented on Facebook:

“Thank you Mall of America for blocking All of the handicap parking spaces and telling me that it was your right because it is private property.”

MOA HC spots 2

After contacting the woman who wrote the post to get details about what happened, I also contacted the PR department at the Mall of America. A spokeswoman told me that the spots were blocked for “safety and security” reasons. They wanted to prevent people from crossing the street between the parking ramp and the mall during an extremely busy time, instead, forcing them to cross using skybridges on other parking levels. The spokeswoman also offered to have an executive at the mall explain this directly to this woman.

There’s a key concept in public relations crisis management called the “Three A’s”: Acknowledge the problem, apologize, and make amends. While hardly a crisis, that’s what happened here. The angry MS patient spoke with a senior vice president at the Mall of America and the result was a good one. “There was more parking on the other side, but you wouldn’t have known that from where we pulled in,” she wrote me in an email. “We talked about placing a sign up next time, saying that there is additional handicap parking here. … He apologized for the response I received Friday night. … We said at the end [that] we all have to work a little harder to make life better for everyone.”

And there’s a P.S. to this story. It turns out that the senior VP’s father has MS. I’d like to be a fly on the wall the next time the father and son have a chat.

You’re invited to follow my personal blog at www.themswire.com.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Norma McFarlane avatar

Norma McFarlane

I am amaze that people with disabilities are refered to as being handicap in the United states. My son is disabled due to MS and my eldest son passed away after battling with MS I live in the UK.The word handicap if I am right, not being a sport person myself remind me of those people playing golf. This is the 21st century move on.
Very please that the lady in question was able to speak with someone who understands. Good on her.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Norma,

I've been dealing with MS since 1980 and I've always considered myself to be handicapped, rather than disabled. To me, "disabled" means "broken down" and unable to move. "Handicapped" means I have a problem that requires some sort of assistance. So, please call me what I call myself: "handicapped."


Dori Rocco avatar

Dori Rocco

I'd like to say that all handicapped people are not in wheelchairs either. I am very weak and slow and I walk with a cane. Sometimes the spots and the ramps are nowhere near the door. While I'm at it. Why do people sit in their car in a handicapped spot? I see this all the time and sometimes I don't shop because there are no spots. Why can't they drop the person at the door and park elsewhere?

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Dori,

I agree with both of your points. And, I'll add a dislike for people who block curb cuts when they park.


Judy Crutchfield avatar

Judy Crutchfield

Love the article about Handicap parking. City's and States could make a lot of money on their abuse by people if the fine on the sign was collected. Saw it today at a doctors building. My husband backed in so he could deploy the ramp on the handicap grid. When we came out of the appointment, someone had parked on the grid. Should we be frustrated as we often are, or be patient, be an activist, and call the police to see if they will issue a ticket/fine?

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Glad you like it, Judy. I'm the type of person who would call the cops. At a minimum, I would have left a note on the windshield. How else will inconsiderate people ever learn?


Andy avatar


I went to a concert at Starlight Theater in Kansas City. The entire parking lot closest to the entrance was designated handicap parking and they ran golf carts between parking lot and gates. Some places go above and beyond. I commend them for their efforts to help the disabled.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias


Thanks for sharing that. When a venue has it together, as you described, all of us should make it a point to say thanks...that we appreciate what they've done. I hope you've taken a moment to tell the theater.

BlueBadgeParking.com avatar


If you are looking for disabled / handicap parking anywhere in the world BlueBadgeParking.com might be able to help
And if BlueBadgeParking.com can't help you then you can help BlueBadgeParking.com as the free map of parking spaces is crowd-sourced so anyone can add and edit locations.
Hope you find it useful.


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