Here is a round-up of the latest news in the world of accessible travel and disability, including a new city park with a wheelchair accessible zipline, wheelchair spaces coming to a popular railway system, a new concept for an accessible bike, big news in an ADA lawsuit against Uber and more.

Accessible travel news from around the web:

  • How the coronavirus is affecting travel bloggers — The global suspension of leisure travel and government-mandated lockdowns has thrown a wrench in this blog, which I’ll detail in a future post. This article from the BBC looked at the way coronavirus has impacted bloggers in the UK, one of them being my good friend Emma of Simply Emma. I hope life will return to normal for everyone, including travel bloggers, very soon.
Children playing on climbing towers connected by sky bridges.
Children play in a facility resembling one coming to Panama City. Image courtesy Panama City News Herald.
  • Panama City to invest in wheelchair accessible zip line — Oakland Terrace Park, located 1900 W. 11th St. in Panama City, Florida, is receiving new playground equipment that will “give children an opportunity to challenge themselves and achieve total victory.” Inspired by the “American Ninja Warrior” TV show, the park will feature five 30-foot climbing towers. Disabled park-goers won’t be left out, with two ADA compliant components, including a wheelchair harness for one of the park’s zip lines. The park is scheduled to open in May 2020.
  • Judge allows ADA case against Uber to proceed — U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg ruled that two New Orleans residents have grounds to sue Uber over the company’s failure to provide a wheelchair accessible service in the city. The company denied that they are a transportation company, but the judge dismissed the claim pointing out that Uber “advertises itself as a transportation system.” In moving the case forward, Seeborg accepted the plaintiffs’ assertion that Uber “could reasonably assemble a fleet of WAVs in New Orleans and modify its app to provide UberWAV.”
Rendering of 4-wheeled accessible, electric-powered bike.
Rendering of wheelchair user transferring on to 4-wheeled Silverback bike.
  • New adventure bike designed for paraplegics — Vidyut Naidu, a student at the Royal College of Art in London, designed a concept for a four-wheeled adventure vehicle designed to be accessible to wheelchair users. He told NewzHook, “There is nothing out there that pushes the envelope for people with disabilities, something that will let them have fun.” The vehicle, which he has called Silverback, was scheduled to be exhibited 2020 Royal College of Art Intelligent Mobility final show, but that has been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • American Airlines offers $200 voucher for dropping Quadriplegic woman — 38-year-old Hunter Adkins was traveling to participate in an adaptive snow ski adventure when American Airlines staff helping her onto the airplane failed to observe her instructions. As a quadriplegic, she lacks control and told staff not to let her go until she was strapped into the seat. They failed to follow her instructions, causing her to fall onto the floor and cut her head. American Airlines offered a $200 voucher for future travel, denied responsibility and blamed the incident on the passenger. Fortunately, ABC network KVUE in Austin, Texas wouldn’t let them off the hook that easily. Full story at the link.
Wheelchair user seated at accessible space on train.
Wheelchair space on German train, to be used as an example for increased accessibility on Japanese Shinkansen trains.
  • Japanese trains to become wheelchair-friendly — The Japanese Transport Ministry has unveiled a new plan to increase the accessibility of its Shinkansen high-speed trains. The plan calls for larger and dedicated wheelchair spaces to be added to every train, providing wheelchair users with a window seat and enough space so as not to block the aisle. A new booking system will be introduced to allow purchase of accessible tickets online.
  • Wheelchair user John Yarosz hit, killed by motorist — This is yet another story of a motor vehicle operator failing to yield to a pedestrian who had the right-of-way. 66-year-old John C. Yarosz of Williamsport, Pennsylvania was a respected member of his community. The man who hit him will face charges of careless driving, failure to yield for a pedestrian and failure to signal a turn. Somehow, that doesn’t seem like enough. Please be careful out there.

Check back often for the latest roundup of accessible travel news. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the know!

Featured image courtesy Craig Hospital.

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