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.