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Accessible Taxis Would Lead To Injuries, Lawsuits, Mayor Says

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Requiring all cabs to be wheelchair accessible would be dangerous and uncomfortable and lead to fewer people riding in taxis, the mayor of New York City said.

In a radio interview on Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that forcing all cabs to be accessible poses a number of problems. Specifically, he said the vehicles are more expensive, they don’t ride as smoothly as regular cabs and they include a large, inconvenient gap between the passengers and driver.

“The suspension is a lot worse and it’s harder to get up to pay the cab driver and get in and out and that sort of thing,” Bloomberg said. “Fewer people may use cabs because the suspension is worse. I think you’re going to see (law)suits about people getting up trying to get across the divide — there’s so much more space between the backseat and the divider. I think you’re going to see people getting hurt.”

The comments come as New York City faces a lawsuit over its lack of accessible cabs. Currently, just 232 of the city’s 13,237 cabs accommodate wheelchairs.

Earlier this year, disability advocates sued seeking to force the city to make all cabs accessible. And, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney recently said he supports the advocates’ efforts, arguing that non-accessible taxis are a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

For his part, however, Bloomberg said that he believes wheelchair users should be able to access taxis that can accommodate them by calling for a ride, rather than hailing a taxi in the street.

“It’s always somebody who says, ‘oh, no, everything has to be handicapped accessible, or wheelchair accessible,’ but that’s not necessarily what the people that are in wheelchairs need,” the mayor said.

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Comments (4 Responses)

  1. dotmacis says:

    Excuse me, Mr. Mayor?? How can you say that wheelchair accessibility isn’t necessary what people in wheelchairs need?? Yes, EVERY cab should be wheelchair accessible!! Able-bodied people can hail cabs. Why shouldn’t people in wheelchairs be able to do the same thing? In any case, NYC definitely needs more wheelchair accessible cabs. The wait times for these vehicles are very long. Maybe you should spend a few days in a wheelchair, to see exactly what I mean!!!!

  2. GirlWithTheCane says:

    What would people who use wheelchairs need *besides* universal accessibility? Bloomberg’s assessment of what people in wheelchairs do and don’t “need” doesn’t make on bit of sense.

    Perhaps he needs to spend a day trying to get around his own city in a wheelchair…

  3. JiffyPop says:

    Mayor Bloomberg,

    Please get on a plane and fly to London. Take some people who use wheelchairs with you. Check out English cabs…they comfortably carry people in wheelchairs and people who walk.

    You will see that requiring all cabs to be wheelchair accessible would be neither dangerous nor uncomfortable nor lead to fewer people riding in taxis.

    While we like to think the US leads in all things, wheelchair transportation is not one of them. Wheelchair users can travel all over London in cabs. Of course, they can’t get into any of the buildings once they get there, but that is beside the point.

    Get over your New York-centric thinking and see that the broader world has solutions to problems you think insurmountable. For heaven’s sake, don’t you have any wheelchair users on your staff you could consult before opening your mouth and jumping in with both feet? Your views on this topic make you sound ignorant and backwards.

    http://www.london-taxis.co.uk/pdf/LT5929_B.pdf
    The London Taxi is uniquely designed to cater for
    a wide range of passengers.
    Integral ramps allow easy access, with a securing
    mechanism for wheelchair users providing stability
    during the journey. The nearside swivel seat used in
    conjunction with the intermediate step makes for
    easy access for passengers with limited mobility.
    Our cabs also have special features designed for the
    partially sighted and hearing-impaired, as well as low
    floors and high seating positions – providing
    excellent accessibility, increasing your potential
    customer base and fitted as standard.

  4. annie1955 says:

    I live in the UK and we travel to America for our annual vacation. I have visited New York several times and cannot understand why the cabs are not all wheelchair accessible. I could not believe the alleged comments by the Mayor of New York- what an old fashioned view he has of disabled people. No wonder most of the pavements and cut kerbs in Manhatten are so bad for wheelchair users too.

    I am a full time wheelchair user and work as lead on equality in my city. We introduced all wheelchair accessible cabs many years ago, well before London did. What a sense of freedom it is to just stick out my thumb to hail a cab. How come New York is so far behind? Good luck to all you campaigners.

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