Today’s guest blogger, Liam Dougherty, shares his inspiring movement to make transportation more accessible through the advocacy group Taxis For All of Philadelphia.
Regardless of whether or not you live in Philadelphia, the content of this guest blog resonates with transportation accessibility issues both nationally and globally. To join the movement (you don't have to live in Philly to do this!), you can add your voice until the public comment period ends on Monday July 13th.
What can we do in our own communities to make transportation more accessible?
This post originally appeared on the Philadelphia Parking Authority Blog.
Guest Blogger Bio: Liam Dougherty is currently a student in Philadelphia, graduating with his Master’s in Public Administration this Spring. He was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia in high school, and gets around with a wheelchair, electric scooter, and using a service dog named Virgil.
Title: Liberty and Taxis for All
You’re stranded and alone. It is 2AM, you’re 10 miles from your home, and there is no bus route you can take back. Most have stopped running anyway. You call for a cab for the eighth time, but there is still not a single vehicle in the whole city to take you home. You have been waiting for three hours, hoping that one will come on duty. All you can do is wait.
It’s a story common to more than 120,000 people with mobility disabilities in Philadelphia. You do everything right – you call for a ride from a taxicab company (often days beforehand, as is the current policy for wheelchair accessible vehicles) and your ride just never shows up. And when they stand you up, you’re stuck waiting on that lonely corner.
The Philadelphia Parking Authority’s (PPA) Proposed Rulemaking Order 126-11 ”Modern Taxicab Standards” would solve this problem. The new regulation will require all vehicles purchased for taxicab service after a designated date to be wheelchair accessible. If this rule is approved, the precedent of universal accessibility will be set here in Philadelphia, and other cities across the nation will be urged to follow suit. We have waited on that lonely street corner long enough.
Accessibility is a civil right. Twenty-five years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, politicians and businesses alike are still disregarding the rights of people with disabilities. As with every struggle for civil rights, a shift will only occur through the efforts of those with the strength and courage to correct injustice. We must continue the fight.
This regulation is about more than transportation. Being able to utilize a responsive transit system means being able to participate in society. Being heard and understood starts with being able to come to the table. Accessibility is the first step toward awareness and acceptance, and we can’t afford to wait any longer.
Your part starts with submitting a public comment in support of this rulemaking. It starts with you going to the PPA blog and sending an email. The public comment period will end on Monday July 13, 2015, so if accessibility is something that affects you or someone you know, speak up.
Let’s make the City of Brotherly Love the first city in America with a fully accessible, fully integrated taxicab system – with liberty and taxis for all.
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About 7 Dresses 4 Health (7D4H): 7D4H is a year-long arts and health education campaign lead by visual artist, Marian Brown, in conjunction with Arts Connect International. The objective of the campaign is to promote inclusive community practices through adDRESSing health artistically and collaboratively. To learn more about the genesis of the project, read Marian’s New Year Blog.
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Campaign Update (2017): All 7 Dresses 4 Health blogs were migrated from a former site, so the sharing analytics are inconsistent from when they were first published. We apologize to our guest bloggers, and readers, for this inconvenience. That said, the campaign garnered an average of 5K hits per blog, over 500,000 readers throughout 2015! Additionally, the average number of shares per guest blog was over 150x on social media (through Facebook and Twitter). Thank you for making this incredible campaign possible - and for all that it was for so many. With gratitude, Marian & the ACI Team