Here is a round-up of the latest news in the world of accessible travel and disability, including a debate over whether people with disabilities should be allowed to become NASA astronauts, complaints about wheelchair taxi drivers not securing wheelchair passengers, a paratransit system shut down by snow, a big-money lawsuit against United Airlines and more.
Accessible travel news from around the web:
- More wheelchair seats coming to Wrigley Field after ADA lawsuit — A man recently filed suit against the Chicago Cubs for changes that reduced the number of quality of wheelchair accessible seats/spaces inside Wrigley Field. But as the ballpark undergoes yet another renovation, positive changes could be coming. Cubs spokesman Julian Green told the Chicago Sun-Times, “Wrigley Field is expected to have more than the number of accessible wheelchair spaces located in many more locations in the ballpark than before the renovation.” That’s good news, and the ADA lawsuit is sure to have had something to do with it. Be sure to check out my article on wheelchair accessibility at Wrigley Field.
- Bombardier builds accessible lavatory, but airlines aren’t buying — In an article following AIX 2019, Flight Global reports that aircraft manufacturer Bombardier sees accessibility, or the lack thereof, as one reason why people with disabilities are not flying more often. With a focus on making travel more accessible, Bombardier partnered with interiors manufacturer Safran to create an accessible lavatory for use on smaller regional jets. Now that the PRM lavatory is on the market, Flight Global reports that “no airline customer has bought it.” I’m not surprised – are you?
- Class action lawsuits filed against Lyft, Uber — Rideshare operators like Lyft and Uber are clearly engaged in significant and purposeful disability discrimination by failing to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles through their platform. A non-profit organization focused on disability rights has filed a class action suit against Lyft for failing to provide equal access. The organization, Disability Rights Advocates, has pointed to the effect rideshare operators have had on pushing traditional taxi companies (and their accessible vans) out of the market, making it more difficult for wheelchair users to find a ride of their own.
- Man forges disability certificate for free train ticket — Railway companies in Thane, India provide concessionary tickets to passengers with disabilities. One man was recently arrested by police after he forged a doctor’s disability certificate to acquire a free rail pass. He and his alleged carer were arrested after they concluded a journey on the train, using the train tickets reserved for persons with disabilities. It is my fear that fraudulent behavior such as this will lead to more hoops that people with disabilities must navigate in order to take advantage of the service discounts meant for them.
- Hit-and-run involving wheelchair, but still no sidewalk — A car traveling at 40 miles per hour struck Laura Jewell as she was traveling to the store in Texarkana, Arkansas in her motorized wheelchair. The driver fled the scene, but has since been arrested. She survived, but the cause of the crash was clear: the road she was traveling on had no sidewalk. Even after a near-fatal crash involving a wheelchair, the city still hasn’t been able to track down the funds to build a sidewalk. What do you think should happen?
- Wreckless Bird scooter riders cause bicyclist to hit, injure wheelchair user — A man was riding his power wheelchair down the boardwalk in San Diego, California when two teenagers riding Bird scooters swerved in front of a bicyclist. With nowhere to go, the bicyclist ran into the wheelchair user, injuring him. He has filed suit against the City of San Diego and Bird Scooters. What do you think? Do you feel safe sharing the sidewalk with untrained scooter riders? Should they be liable for his injuries? Be sure to check out my article on E-scooters blocking wheelchair access to sidewalks.
- UK plans to invest £300m in railway station accessibility — Some good news for people with disabilities in the UK, as the Department for Transport has announced plans to spend £300m on accessibility improvements at 73 of the country’s railway stations. Through the Access for All funding program, the monies will be spent on things like tactile paving, elevators and adjustable ticket counters. Like most infrastructure projects, it won’t happen overnight – but any step in the right direction is surely welcome.