Anyone who visits the museums on the Mall knows that parking is a problem. But trying to visit the museums with someone in a wheelchair is overwhelmingly discouraging:

* Independence, Jefferson and Madison avenues have about 300 spaces; of these, approximately 30 are reserved for handicapped parking. Out of that 30, I recently found that six parking places were taken by vehicles with neither handicapped license plates nor hang tag.

* Almost all of the handicapped parking places require a person in a wheelchair to exit from a vehicle into traffic. The curbs also require that a person in a wheelchair make his or her way to the pedestrian crossing by going into the street. The curbs do not allow any other access, and after getting out of a vehicle a person in a wheelchair can't cut across from the car to the doorway of the desired building.

* Most museums allow wheelchair access at only one entrance. If I can't find a parking space near that entrance, I must drop my disabled friend off, try to find a parking space and come back.

Couldn't several parking places be reserved in special lots near each museum? (Someone can check for bombs, if they must. I know that vans and public buildings make security staff nervous.)

Couldn't ramps be installed at several entrances and perhaps even at mid-block?

And ouldn't handicapped entrances and facilities be better marked? Those little blue signs with the wheelchair logo are a little too discreet.