Understanding human needs is half the job of meeting them.
– Adlai Stevenson
I came home last evening to a very angry 18 year-old. “Did you read what mayor Bloomberg said about accessible taxi’s in New York City?”
Arielle experienced the discrimination first hand on our last visit to the Big Apple. I wrote about it here. At the time I had no idea there was a lawsuit filed dealing with the lack of accessible taxicabs in the city.
I read the article Arielle was referring to and was extremely disappointed. Clearly from Mayor Bloomberg’s words it was obvious he had no understanding of the life of someone using a wheelchair. If he did, as a leader, he wouldn’t have used such insensitive language. Allen Rucker feels the same way.
ALBANY – Mayor Bloomberg Wednesday brushed off the feds’ effort to make more cabs handicapped-accessible – saying it would inconvenience able-bodied passengers.
The underlying message of this statement is that able-bodied passengers are more important than those with mobility issues. I couldn’t imagine telling a soldier who has just returned from Iraq, paralyzed, and wanting to travel from his hotel to the 9/11 Memorial that there are no accessible taxi’s because it would inconvenience able-bodied passengers.
The mayor didn’t stop there – he insisted it’s not realistic to have wheelchair-using New Yorkers on the street hailing taxis. “If you’re in a wheelchair, it’s really hard to go out in the street and hail down a cab and get the cab to pull over and get into [it],” he said
He’s absolutely right. In New York City it is very difficult to hail a taxi from a wheelchair. In fact when Arielle was with her fellow students she had to pretend she wasn’t with them just so a taxi would stop and give them a ride back to Columbia University. Arielle would hide until the last second and then when a cab pulled over she appeared and hopped in with her friends. One time a cab driver actually said “A wheelchair?- no!” and drove away. I see now that the attitude of the cab drivers is a direct reflection of their leader.
I don’t believe for a second that New York City cannot be an accessible city. I believe in the American spirit for change and accomplishing goals once deemed impossible. I do believe if our leaders are unwilling to understand all of their citizens – and believe in their heart that a change can be made – then it will not happen, because they are our chosen leaders and they set the tone for their followers.
Life is about growth and even billionaires cannot be expected to be perfect. I’d imagine being a mayor is a very stressful job that can cause someone to lose sight of the big picture. Maybe that is the time when the followers should speak up, show their support for the issue and take action. Surely there is a solution to the transportaion-accessibility issue in New York City. Home Make Over… how about City Make Over?London and Barcelona can do it – why can’t we?
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
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