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Shopping cart consternation

One cart sits in the parking area gathering rack while spaces meant for handicapped parking (below) are full of carts that people have pushed there for convenience.

Sun Advocate publisher

Everyone has done it. And nearly everyone is at fault at some time or another.

The problem? Shopping carts blocking up handicapped spots while cart racks in the same parking lot are totally empty.

"I sometimes have a hard time finding a space to park and I need a handicapped one to get into stores easier," said Margene Smythe (not her real name) who was patroling a local store's parking lot for a place to park her handicapped labeled truck one afternoon last week. "Look at the racks and then look at the spaces."

Smythe was right. The cart gathering rack had one cart in, while a dozen or more carts clogged up many of the handicapped spaces. It seems the snowy days bring out the most people who won't put the carts in the right places too.

The lack of action by many hurts the handicapped as well as the people who gather up the carts. It's much easier to pick them up from one place than have to run around the lot picking them all up.

Still, handicapped spaces are for those who can't physically get into an establishment as easy as an able bodied person.

According to the Price Police Department, enforcement concerning handicapped spaces is only about vehicles, not shopping carts.

"If a vehicle that is not supposed to be in a handicapped zone is parked there, whether we see it or we get a complaint, we can issue a citation for that," said Officer Kevin Mele. "But as far as shopping carts go, I have never been asked that question. I don't think we could do anything about that. We wouldn't know who to approach on that situation because we couldn't know who put them there."

Stores usually take a lot of responsibility to make sure handicapped parking areas are kept clear according to Allison Smith, an advocate for the Utah Disability Law Center in Salt Lake.

"For the most part businesses really help," she said in a phone interview on Monday afternoon. "Actually keeping these spaces open for those that need them is a business/community responsibility."

Smith says that as far as the law is concerned the spaces must be there and kept for the handicapped, but the local laws rule when it comes to enforcement.

"There is nothing that allows or prevents local agencies from stopping these kinds of spaces from being blocked," she said. "Probably this falls under obstructing parking in general. But it does come down to the local level. For instance if you look the fines for parking in a handicapped zone without the proper documentation may get you one fine in Salt Lake and another in Sandy."

Stores send out a number of people to gather carts, usually a number per hour. But on a busy day, these carts add up and people, not thinking, can cause a problem for someone else. Obviously it comes down to civic responsibility.

So the next time a cart needs to be put away, think about that person who needs the space where it is being left. If they are handicapped it may be too hard for them to park somewhere else and they may not be able to gain access to the store if it is occupied. This means possibly not getting the food they need or even medication that might be vital for their health and well being.

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