Can't even get arrested in this town
I've been following this story a bit because I follow United Spinal on Twitter and they've been keeping me up-to-date.
Basically, if you're in a wheelchair in New York, you can't get a taxi to save your life. There are 231 accessible cabs—as compared to 13,000 not-accessible ones.
United Spinal joined with some other disability rights groups to sue the New York City Taxi and Limousine corporation to get them to buy accessible cabs when it's time to replace old ones. Not – "Hey, throw out all the cabs you have now and get some accessible ones," but just pick up an accessible one when one of the cabs you have now gets sent to the junkyard.
They won their suit and there was much rejoicing—until June, when a federal appeals court decided the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn't require the city to demand that cab drivers serve the disabled.
Now, I've never been to New York City (except that one time where I sat in an airport for an hour between D.C. and Portland, Maine.) but it seems that taxis are THE way to get around—and even when it isn't wicked hot, raining, or snowing, getting around without a taxi is a huge undertaking for people in wheelchairs.
Unfortunately, our wheelchair-using friends have the mayor of New York on the side of the taxi service, and what looks to be a long fight ahead of them if they want to get around the city.
Fast-forward to now—apparently, a bunch of wheelchair users went to protest this whole mess at New York City's celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act. One of the protestors wrote a blog that outlines the happenings there.
A few snippets: "The row of wheelchair users at the front (of which I was a part) shut down our machines and refused to move. They sent up a 'negotiator' who told us that we were free to leave, and eventually implored us to leave."
Apparently, when it came time to arrest the protestors, it turned out none of the NYPD vehicles are wheelchair accessible. (And we thought the cab situation was bad!)
The police got an accessible transportation program to bring the wheelchair users to the police station and cuffed the wheelchairs to a rail with plastic handcuffs. When it was time for them to be released, "the police told us that they would get Access-a-Ride to take us home. We told the officers they’d never do it, but they assured us that police authority would prevail. Of course, Access-a-Ride refused, saying that we would have had to make a reservation at least one day in advance, so they would not come no matter what."
No word on how the protesters made it home. If only they could have taken cabs!