Last Thursday, I had packed Razzo and set up the Garmin for a ride to the Unrally. I was to meet up with Captain Gary in Cottondale, then we were to get lunch at a cool roadside diner along the way to Pensacola.
But five minutes before leaving, Sarah looked at her phone and found messages that my Mother had been checked into Baptist Hospital. So, still wanting to go on my ride, I decided to stop by for a brief visit before heading out. I rode over the St. Johns River to Baptist, looked up her room number, and saw that she was actually in Baptist South, , 17 miles south (the wrong way if I was to go west) of where I was parked (in motorcycle parking at the front door to the hospital)
I rode south into darkening skies. There were patches of light rain as I was getting off the highway onto Old St. Augustine Road.
As I approached the hospital, I headed into a new, almost empty parking garage and parked Razzo in what looked like motorcycle parking. The stripes were exactly spaced for motorcycles and there was a bicycle rack inside the striped area.
I went up to see Mom. She was sleeping so I left her alone and called Gary to tell him that, with my father in the nearby Brooks Rehab Hospital, and Mom in Baptist, it quickly became apparent that caring for them just added to the responsibility that had fallen on me and my three brothers. I had to abandon the ride plans.
He was understanding.
After visiting with her for a few hours I went down to ride over to see Dad, when I saw a small pink paper under the seat strap. It said I had parked in the handicapped access, and the penalty is a whopper, $250.00. In looking around, I realized that it certainly looked that way, but the signage was inadequate and I, in my usual way of trying to find, out-of-the way parking, I thought I was in a safe zone.
The rest of the week and weekend were spent visiting with both, a circumstance that was very rewarding for me.
Because I always want to do the right thing, and felt like the lack of signage warning riders like me, I sent an email to the CEO of Baptist Health, a former client (I designed a large addition and renovation project for his house several years ago.)
He responded quickly, and positively, saying that he would refund the parking fee if it was a Baptist security that issued the citation, but because it was the Jacksonville Sheriff's office, he could do nothing.
He sent my message to his staff, who agreed and set out to fix the signage.
I called the phone number on the citation, was sent to three different people, the last, the city handicap police, who said that it was a new garage, signage up to date, and that the only way I could be heard would be to set up a court date.
Because there was a good chance of losing in court, and because I can charge dearly for every hour I spend working on my client's projects, it didn't make sense to fight the ticket.
With my Dad having serious mobility issues, I have full respect for the handicapped spaces and access to buildings. I would never violate these knowingly.
I paid it on line yesterday. I certainly hope the money goes to something worthwhile in helping Jacksonville.
I received this email today from the CEO of the hospital. He had the President of Baptist South add signage to make it cleared where motorcycles are to park. I guess speaking out helps.