Last week I discovered something awesome: My designated University of Illinois parking lot is just a one-minute walk to my new office, saving me a 15-minute trudge in the summer heat across campus. On a nice day I enjoyed the walk to my old office, but during inclement weather of any sort it was quite a pain. I’ll admit to having plugged $7 into a meter more than once so that I could avoid it altogether. This new convenience is pure logistical luck, but I’ll take it. Unfortunately, I’ve found few similar parking conveniences around Champaign-Urbana.
I’ve been surprised that I’ve yet to find a single designated “stork” parking spot besides at our homegrown baby shop, Babyland. While I will admit its purely a nice-to-have, I had assumed that our not-that-tiny, fairly progressive college town would have this sort of amenity. As an eight-months-pregnant woman coping with a large belly, swollen ankles and 80- to 90-degree temperatures, being that much closer to the next air-conditioned space would be nice. Nothing is worse that breaking a sweat before a one-hour adventure up and down the aisles of a grocery store.
In communities where it exists, stork parking provides moms-to-be and often new moms, too, the luxury of having a designated parking spot close to the entrance of a facility. Because it’s not always possible to shop at crowd-avoiding times, it is a convenience that can help make a weary mom’s day a little easier. It is particularly helpful in strip malls and outside of large stores with even larger parking lots, where the walk to the front door can take nearly as much time as the shopping excursion inside. Just yesterday, I didn’t have to navigate a jam-packed parking lot in Edwardsville to attend a business lunch. It was great!
However, not everyone agrees moms and pregnant woman should be treated any differently than others. Men and women alike face some sort of infirmity at one time or another, and sometimes that illness is extended or chronic. There are some that say the idea is simply silly and others who assume too many will simply take advantage of the space, even not being truthful. Some are concerned these spots would take away a more-deserved handicapped space.
What do you think of stork parking? Is it something you’d like to see more of in Champaign-Urbana or is it simply not necessary?
Jennifer Wilson often declines her husband’s offer to drop of her off at the door, but appreciates the gesture. She writes 31 and Pregnant, a column about navigating first-time pregnancy in Champaign-Urbana.