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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Comments to "Mayor Bloomberg on Accessible Taxis… Someone Help Me Understand…"

  1. Denise Lanier

    October 31, 2011

    Thank you so much for writing about this. I’ve had similar disheartening experiences. I have a mobility assistance dog due to MS-related balance issues. I’ve learned that to get a taxi in New York City I have to find the nearest hotel and have a bellman flag a taxi for me. The trick is to wait off to the side, out of sight, until the taxi is secured. Once it’s stopped and the door is open they cannot refuse me, though they still try sometimes. The bellmen are usually very kind about advocating for me when the taxi drivers protest about having a service dog in their vehicle.

    When I travel to NYC for the marathon, like I’ll be doing at the end of this week, I’ll be coming from the airport with my recumbent trike, which I ride in the handcycle division of the race. Which means that I need a wheelchair accessible taxi. It really is a crime how few there are. The ADA is federal law giving us equal rights to access and accommodation, and yet here we are, still having to fight for those rights to actually be afforded.

    Let’s keep writing, keep speaking up and out about this, and soon they won’t be able to ignore all of our collective voices ~

    • kdrausin

      November 1, 2011

      I think it is very important to keep speaking up and asking others to help spread the word. I really don’t understand why some taxi drivers in NYC are being difficult. Lack of compassion – understanding.

      Good luck on your marathon. Arielle just got a new racing wheelchair and she is anxiously awaiting track season.

      I really enjoyed reading about your encounter – or should I say your dog’s encounter with Dennis Leary.

      • Denise Lanier

        November 14, 2011

        Thanks for the good-luck wishes; the marathon was a long, painful slog for me this year but I did finish & that’s what counts!

        I’m excited to hear about your daughter’s adventures with a racing wheelchair; please keep us readers up to date. Or even better, would your daughter consider writing some entries (or her own blog) about her experiences entering the world of track & field via racing wheelchair? I think that would be awesome, as well as perhaps light a fire in the hearts of others to give a racing wheelchair a whirl 🙂

        There’s really nothing like moving that fast by your own power when your body is used to a much slower, halting, obstacle-filled pace. I know at times I feel like my own body IS my biggest obstacle, and that’s when getting out on a smooth stretch of road where I can really r-i-d-e allows me to feel strong and healthy and victorious in my life.

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