More About Handicapped Parking | Mexico | Living in Mexico

More About Handicapped Parking

In Mexico, we have reserved parking spaces for the handicapped. We're not some uncivilized third-world country like some of y'all think. In fact, we have an easier, friendlier approach. Consider these spaces in front of the new Mega supermarket:


One of the signs looks a little different, doesn't it? Let's read the lettering.


Yes, in Mexico we respect our expecting mothers. For many people, Mexico is about having children, raising families. The Catholic Church, huge here, encourages procreation. The government is ambivalent. Families are good for the country. Children are good. Just not too many, please. But there's one absolute in this patriarchal society: a pregnant woman is a good woman, and should be given every consideration. Like her own parking spot.

In addition to disabled and pregnant people, you're allowed to use these spaces if you are a "person of the third age"; that is to say, old. I wonder, do I qualify? I get discount fares on the San Francisco Muni and reduced-price tickets at the movies. I belong to the AARP. But I don't feel old. For now, it's not an issue. I saw these reserved spaces after walking to Mega from my home—more than a mile. It's easier than driving in our horrible congestion and it's good for me, so I won't be parking there anytime soon.

This photo shows a couple of handicapped spots in an underground lot in Querétaro.


Look pretty much like those in the States, with the universal blue-and-white symbols and all. The yellow roll-away barriers are unfamiliar, though. They're there because parking enforcement is more difficult here than up north. Without computer tracking, Mexican police have to remove license plates to get violators to pay their fines.

The barriers discourage illegal parking, making the number of violations more manageable. Fewer plates to unscrew.

But, you ask, how does it help the handicapped if they have to struggle out of their cars and move a heavy steel barrier? Well, all Mexican parking lots have one or more attendants who collect fees, guide you in and out of parking spaces, sometimes even wash your car. When someone pulls up to a handicapped parking place, an attendant comes over and moves the barrier.

Back in San Francisco, I noticed signs encouraging drivers to obey the law. Signs like:


Encouragement by threatening, that's one way.

Here's another—the Mexican way:


"We respect these spaces;
Today for those guys,
Tomorrow for ourselves."

Sweet. Friendly. Fatalistic. Quintessentially Mexican.