Wichita considers app for handicapped parking violators

WICHITA, Kansas – Tired of seeing people park illegally in handicapped spots? There’s an app for that, and city leaders will consider whether citizens can turn violators in.

The makers of the Parking Mobility app gave a presentation Wednesday morning to the city and county’s joint accessibility advisory board, saying they could partner with the city to turn in people violating handicapped parking laws.

“It’s there to help protect their safety,” Mack Marsh, Parking Mobility’s project director, said. “It’s there to make the community more accessible and to make Wichita a better place to live for everyone.”

After registering for the app, if a volunteer notices a violation, they are directed to take three pictures: one of the back of the vehicle, one of the front, and one of the parking spot. The photos are sent to local authorities, who based on the photos, can issue a citation to the driver.

The city would have to negotiate a partnership with the app’s makers to allow police to write tickets based on the collected data. Parking Mobility says 1,500 people in Wichita are already using the app and have reported 800 violations so far this year.

“But we want to help the city understand that those 800 reports actually could be citations and helping to educate the community so that they wouldn’t park illegally again,” Marsh said.

The app, developed by Access Empowerment, a non-profit based in Austin, Texas, is already in use by several Texas municipalities. Its goal is to educate the public that parking for the disabled is not for their convenience, but for their safety.

City leaders who saw the presentation said they were intrigued by the proposal.

“It is a problem,” Councilman James Clendenin said. “I see it all the time, and this is an important topic for us to discuss to help our most vulnerable citizens be able to have access like everybody else.”

The Wichita City Council will consider the proposal, but there is no timetable on when any action would be taken.

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