For people with disabilities living in Baltimore, parking in the Federal Hill area just got much easier. ProjectSPACE is a joint initiative by the Parking Authority of Baltimore City and the Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities that aims to simplify and extend metered parking for people with disabilities. While the program has been in place in the Central Business District since 2014, and the Fells Point and Harbor East areas since September 2016, it was launched in the Federal Hill community on April 17.
According to the projects website, ProjectSPACE aims to reserve designated metered parking for people with disabilities, install accessible parking meters, and retrofits multi-space EZ Park meters to comply with most Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. These ADA standards are seen in other parts of the city, requiring, for example, that all ramps exceeding 30 feet in length have an intermediate platform. This project accommodates people requiring these standards by extending general parking limits to at least four hours, allowing for any additional travel time.
Local officials are highlighting the new project’s requirement of payment from anyone parking at ADA accessible meters, attempting to remove the motivation for someone to steal a disability tag to simply find a better parking space.
“ProjectSPACE gets at the root of two problems at once,” Peter Little, Executive Director of the Parking Authority of Baltimore City, said in a statement to
Fox 45 News. “It removes the incentive to steal disability placards, which were being stolen at an average of 23 per month before Project SPACE, and it makes more parking spaces available, which helps popular areas like Federal Hill.”
In Phase 1 of ProjectSPACE, which encompassed the Central Business District, removing this free parking opportunity proved to reduce disability tag theft.
“By removing the free parking associated with disability placards and license plates, the incentive to steal and abuse them was eliminated,” ProjectSPACE says on their website. “Before the launch of Phase 1, the average number of disability placards reported stolen to the Baltimore City Police Department was 23 per month. Since the launch, an average of just three placards are reported stolen per month.”
Councilman Eric Costello told Fox 45 News that the project will open up parking opportunities to many residents with mobility needs, also praising its theft-prevention intent.
“The launch of ProjectSPACE in Federal Hill presents an exciting opportunity to support many of our seniors and community members who have a disability,” he said. “Furthermore, it supports our community’s need for more available parking, and has proven to cut down on auto larceny from placard theft.”
According to the ProjectSPACE website, this phase of the parking initiative is bordered by E. Montgomery St., Light St., Ostend St., and Sharp St. A more specific map is available on the website as well.
Photo Credit: William Ross