3-minute interview: Ken Fredgren

By Brian Hughes, Examiner Staff Writer
April 29, 2010

Fredgren is chairman of the volunteer Reston Accessibility Committee, a group formed to improve awareness and quality-of-life issues for those using wheelchairs and other mobility devices in Reston. The group was recently honored by Fairfax County officials for its work in the community.

What is the biggest challenge you see in Reston?
Parking is the number one issue. We have found that there are many places that are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you want to go to restaurants or out to shop and there is no place to park, you go home.

How aware is the public of these parking problems?
Not very. But once you explain it, people begin to understand that it’s a fairness issue. We don’t see it as owners being mean-spirited. We see it as a lack of understanding of what is needed and what the law requires.

Has parking improved in Reston?
I’ve lived here seven years, and it has gotten better. The county established a group of county employees to deal with the complaints. We’re heading in the right direction. I would like to think the $500 fine [a recent increase] turns able-bodied people away from the spots. More can still be done.

Do you use a wheelchair?
In 1959, I came down with polio. It led to a lot of physical therapy. The muscles get weaker over time. In 1996, I started using a cane. Two years ago, I changed to a mobility scooter.

What have been hardest adjustments?
You have to plan how to use your energy and perhaps more importantly, your time. You can’t do anything without adding the extra time it takes to get in and out of your car. It makes a big difference — those five minutes each trip.