November 11th, 2006

Cut cuddle and be Cute

Should people be allowed to trample our civil rights?

I'm not seeing red, but I'm close. This post, which I've been referred to by several sources, is making me very very angry.
Should tPeople with Disabilities be allowed to ride buses?

I thought about writing a comment, but I'm realizing that it probably wouldn't come out very eloquently, considering how angry that post made me, however, I will post a link to this post in the comments on that entry. I don't live in the area, but feel the need to speak up anyway.

I still can't believe that in 2006, the question is whether "the needs of people who are different" are worth it when someone would be inconvenienced. If this is truly the best generation, the most technologically advanced generation and the most forward-thinking generation as some like to claim, it is time we start fixing what is wrong, instead of trying to figure out how to trample other peoples' rights. So, here are my observations, in no particular order:

First, the real answer to this "problem", is not banning people who use wheelchairs from the bus. The answer is finding a solution for everyone. Does it ever occur to the author of this post that people with disabilities do not enjoy being faced with barriers put in place by society? Speaking as someone who only used a wheelchair for two and a half months, but with some difficulty walking long distances, I can say that I didn't enjoy it when there were barriers facing me at every turn and people felt inconvenienced by my disability. But that isn't my fault. Instead of blaming me for what inconveniences you, consider finding ways to remove these barriers. Better lifts on buses and good training on how to use them for drivers would help everyone get to work, school, errands and leisure activities faster. And, if you are ever injured, you'll be thankful that people with disabilities fight for these lifts and accommodations because it will help you get around safely and with dignity.

Second, paratransit "solutions" aren't always the answer. They are frequently late, and put restrictions on people with disabilities that mass-transit doesn't. For example, many of these services require me to book a trip at least a day in advance, if not more. Some services do have a premium fare for trips scheduled the same day, but that is more expensive than the bus.

Next, remember that people with disabilities do have jobs and things we need to get to on time. If I'm late for class, I'm late for class. If a bus cannot or will not accommodate me and I have to wait for another one or deal with the already-mentioned issues with paratransit, I'm going to miss valuable lecture information. If I work, I am just as inconvenienced by the issues described in the post as you are.

So, to Ms. BARNETT, and anyone else who is willing to consider what I've written, I encourage you to work with people with disabilities. Help us get the changes needed to make sure bus rides are comfortable, quick and enjoyable for everyone. You've got a large audience on your blog; I encourage you to continue this dialogue in a productive way.

Figure out what changes need to be made to the current bus system that allow for equal and unsegrigated access for everyone. Propose these changes to your transit authority. Lobby for change. Then work to ensure that new buses and transit options are accessible from the start.