PORTLAND, Ore. – A man in a motorized wheelchair confronted an able-bodied TriMet employee who parked in a handicapped-accessible spot and filmed the interaction.
Earlier this week, Dan Payton, who uses a motorized wheelchair, was at TriMet’s WES commuter rail station in Wilsonville when he noticed a TriMet-owned SUV parked in a handicapped-accessible spot in a nearly empty parking lot. The employee was able-bodied and didn’t have a permit to park in the spot.
Payton confronted the employee and posted the interaction on YouTube.
Oregon law doesn’t allow public officials to park in disabled spots just because they’re in an official vehicle. But Payton’s video shows the TriMet employee stating he was allowed to park in that spot because buses were arriving imminently and would block his vehicle.
“I was just curious if you were parked in a disabled spot and you were,” Payton told the employee after the man approached him and asked what he wanted.
“Yeah, we’re here for a bus bridge,” the TriMet employee responds.
Payton waited for the buses to arrive and his video shows they were not blocking the non-handicapped spots.
The employee also told Payton there were plenty of other handicapped-accessible spots still available.
"It just seems weird that you guys enforce the rules but you're parked in the disabled spot,” Payton told the employee.
He responded, “I wouldn’t do it if we had peak hour service and we had people who needed to park here."
Incensed, Payton explained the law as the TriMet employee smiled.
“Your amusement is amazing to me,” Payton said.
“I’m sure it is,” the employee responded as he got in the SUV and moved his vehicle to a legal parking spot.
Payton turns the camera on himself and says, “It’s great when people don’t realize when they’re about to be viewed by hundreds of thousands of people and I’m the crazy person.”
KGW talked to Payton Friday and he explained that he just wants TriMet to follow the law.
"If they're going to be enforcing the laws, they should at least be following them, you know?” He said. "When somebody sees someone in a position of authority parking like that- in their mind, whether consciously or not- they think, ‘Oh well, maybe it is OK?'"
TriMet issued the following statement:
“We regret this incident, which occurred while a supervisor was on site helping facilitate shuttle bus service for our WES commuter rail passengers. The supervisor was on site the entire time, and as the video shows, additional parking spaces were available to our disabled riders, but it is TriMet policy that disabled parking areas are reserved only for vehicles that display a valid disabled parking placard. We are reviewing proper procedures with our field staff.”