Whenever I go to a new city one of my concerns is transportation. For the average able-bodied person, Uber and Lyft gets he or she where they need to go. If you have a disability and depend on a motorized device for assistance, it’s not that easy to assure transportation.
I must always do intensive research before I go anywhere to make sure that either, I’m in an area where things are happening (so that I’m able to wheel too) or the city has “real” accessible transportation. Accessible transportation in my world is a vehicle with a working lift/ramp with proper tie-down straps in-order to secure my scooter and working seat belts to keep me safe.
I’ve been lucky so far with most cities; but where there seems to be an issue is when I want to go somewhere spontaneous. Say if a restaurant or shopping mall is ten miles away, I must plan for a service with an accessible vehicle to pick me up way ahead of time. I’m all for planning, its part of my world, but sometimes, I just want to go.
While doing research for this post I discovered Uber and Lyft are piloting a transportation service in a few select cities for people with disabilities. Uber program is called, uberWAV and uberASSIST. I am very happy they are providing this service but as I read through the article, I learned this service could only service those who use folding wheelchairs, walkers or scooters. Although, I ride a scooter, it’s still a lengthy process to take it apart to put in a vehicle. Also, this will not help my friends who use electric wheelchairs and are unable to transfer.
Lyft’s program comes in the form of a digital application called, Access Mode. The application can be downloaded onto a phone. When you need a ride, one can make a request for an accessible vehicle to be dispatched out to you. I’m not sure how this works or how reliable it is, but I’m going to download the app onto my phone and try it out, so stay tune.
I also learned about a Cleveland Ohio mom named Debbie Picker, who created her own ride share service for people with disabilities. Picker’s unique service called Fare-Cle is a non-profit organization which is very important for many people with disabilities who live on fix incomes. It is difficult for them to afford transportation, specially to attend social events. Picker knew there was a need for a transportation service because her two sons have down syndrome. She wanted them to be independent and to remain integrated in their community.
Accessible transportation is a major issue in the disability community but hopefully these new ventures will be the start of a great trend. I look forward to when planning for transportation on a whim is easily accessible!