Two people sitting across a table from one another in a radio studio. The man on the left is wearing a cowboy hat. The woman on the right is wearing a bright orange T-shirt with the Mobilize Waco logo

Mobilize Waco is working hard to bring Parking Mobility to McLennan County!

The Waco area has far too few accessible parking spaces. And the spaces we do have are too often occupied by people who don’t need them. So in late 2023, the Mobilize Waco Action Team gave itself a challenge: Explore what other cities are doing to improve creation and enforcement of accessible parking spots. We shared our findings an Action Team meeting and decided to go with Parking Mobility.

Parking Mobility was founded by Mack Marsh, pictured above with Meg Wallace at KWBU studios, and a group of tech-savvy disabled friends back in 2009. They were fed up with having trouble finding parking and, sometimes worse, being unable to get back in their cars when motorists blocked the access lane. Once Mack was rushed to the hospital with heat illness when he couldn’t reenter his van after his son’s baseball game on a hot Texas day! So Mack and friends dreamed up a way for regular folks to report accessible parking violations using an app, and then they created educational videos violators can watch so they don’t do it again. They got officials in Tarrant County, Hays County, and other parts of Texas to adopt the program, and now those areas have almost no repeat accessible-parking offences.

Heck, Mack tells the story much better than any of us can. Listen to his interview with Meg Wallace on our KWBU radio show Living It.

So here’s our plan. This spring and summer, Mobilizers will be using the app to collect data about parking violations. We will also use the app to report where good spaces are, and where spaces are needed. You can help with this! Download the app and start reporting, and let us know you’re joining us in the effort.

When we have collected enough data, we will bring it to McLennan County officials and ask them to adopt the Parking Mobility program. If they say yes, here’s what’s next:

  1. Volunteers will be able to directly report accessible parking violations.
  2. Violators will be ticketed.
  3. Ticketed violators will be given a choice: They can pay the $500 fine, or they can pay a much lower fine and watch a locally produced video explaining how accessible parking works and why it is important.
  4. McLennan County should see a steep decline in repeat accessible-parking violators.

As a bonus, the data we collect will help us advocate for the creation of more accessible parking where it is most needed, and the app will provide disabled motorists with information about where they can find parking. Along the way, we will grow and strengthen our network of advocates working together to create a community where people of all talents and abilities can thrive and lead.

Now that’s a win-win-win!