Have you ever had to do an acrobatic act and contort your body in bizarre ways to get into your car in a public parking area?

Well, I did the other day, which prompted me to write this posting.

All I can say is that it’s a good thing that the bylaws require some public handicap parking stalls to help avoid the acrobatics for those with less mobility.

As an addition in my town there are also some seniors parking stalls and where I lived in Switzerland there were family parking stalls.

When you are designing for your own private garage or carport keep the following in mind.

7 features of accessible parking areas

  1. Build parking areas wider and longer than normal. This will allow space for an accessible passenger loading or transfer zone as well as offering the driver an access aisle. Or sometimes it’s just a matter of having enough space to get a walker out of the back seat.
  2. Cover the parking area with a roof to prevent it becoming slippery in bad weather.
  3. Build them on level ground. This will allow for safer use of wheelchairs.
  4. Connect them to your home with stair-less paved (concrete, brick or other hard non-slip surface) pathways. Cover this pathway with a roof to prevent it becoming slippery in bad weather.
  5. Locate parking areas close to your main entrance to shorten your path of travel. This is extra helpful when you have an armload of groceries.
  6. Distinguish parking areas from pedestrian pathways to prevent vehicles from encroaching on foot path areas. TIP: This can be achieved through changing the paving material or with color.
  7. Lighting. Install motion-sensor lights to ensure there is adequate lighting in this area to increase safety and convenience.


Design for your own needs

When designing a garage or carport it is important to take into account your individual mobility and how you transfers to and from cars, and which type of vehicle you use.  For example, some people may use a side-loading van while others transfer themselves into car seats. You can even begin by measuring your own vehicle dimensions and designing around that.


Action Plan

Site design should start (on paper) before the home is built in order to work through all the potential issues that a site may have.

Including your garage or carport, driveway, and pathways on the building plan during the design phase will assist you in understanding how all the elements will be situated on your property and how they relate to each other.

Remember, it is much easier to shift things around in the planning stage than once your home is set in concrete!

We would love to hear your tips on accessible garages or carports. Please share them in the comments section below.