Ouch weblog: individual blog entry
30 Jun 07, 9:03 AM - The Accessible Future of Public Transit?
Today as I was riding the bus, I noticed there were a lot of other disabled people on the bus. In fact, that's pretty typical for riding the bus in my neighborhood. I live in an area that has a lot of students, lower income people, and low-rent co-ops. A lot of co-ops are accessible housing for PWDs. I live on the edge of the Downtown East Side - an area notorious for drug addicts and homeless people. It's also an area that contains quite a few disabled people on government income support. So I see a lot of folks with canes, walkers, scooters and wheelchairs in my area. As you move out towards the suburbs, this effect decreases. For many reasons, there's a high density of PWDs in my area of town.
I think it's awesome that we keep using public transit. I know there are some of us who aren't able to use public buses and trains, but for those of us who can, I think our constant presence is a great thing. It keeps us visible in society. It forces people to deal with us, to sit next to us, to exchange brief glances or words with us. I know that our presence also helps gradually increase accessibility on the buses. On Vancouver Island - which, by the way, Vancouver City is NOT a part of (confusing, ain't it) - in cities like Victoria and Nanaimo, there are a lot of elderly and disabled. They had so many PWDs using the system that eventually they clued in and upgraded to kneeling buses, buses with wider aisles, etc. I see the same thing happening in Vancouver and I rejoice, even though I wish it would happen faster.
Bus drivers in general are pretty good about disabilities. Most of them will wait for me to sit down before they start the bus. Some drivers will even pipe up and ask someone to give me a seat. Most drivers lower the kneeling part of the bus without having to be asked. The worst thing that happens is that someone with hidden disabilities will be harassed for sitting in the reserved seating. But once you explain the situation, it's usually OK.
I hate the fact that a lot of impoverished PWDs have no choice but to ride the horribly inconvenient inaccessible buses, but since we have no choice, I'm glad that our presence is making changes happen. If only they would happen faster!
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