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Advocates Fear AVs Will Leave Disabled Riders Behind

Pete Bigelow

For Carol Tyson, a recent proposal that would advance the commercialization of self-driving vehicles brought familiar pangs of frustration.

Like so many others, Tyson, an advocate for people with disabilities, believes autonomous transportation holds the potential to unlock newfound independence and mobility for millions of Americans. However, blueprints for that future are missing vital components, namely vehicle designs and regulatory frameworks that address considerations for riders with disabilities.

Transportation leaders have a long history of neglecting the needs of people with disabilities, and advocates such as Tyson grew alarmed again in October when the California Public Utilities Commission issued a proposal that would have allowed autonomous vehicle operators to charge fares and offer shared trips: At least at the outset, it did not include disability access requirements.

CTA Releases “What We Heard” report on Phase II of its Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations

Canadian Transportation Agency
Nov 26, 2020

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) today released its “What We Heard” report summarizing the input received during its consultations on Phase II of its Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations (ATPDR).

On June 25, 2020, the CTA’s new ATPDR came into force. They establish modern legally binding requirements for accessible services, technical standards for equipment, communications, training, and security and border screening.

Building on these new regulations, the CTA launched public consultations on a second phase of the ATPDR, relating to requirements for small transportation service providers (TSPs), One Person, One Fare (1P1F) for international travel, emotional support animals (ESAs) and planning and reporting frameworks for TSPs under the Accessible Canada Act (ACA).

Free Rides Offered to Winnipeg COVID-19 Test Sites, but Many Unaware of Service

Advocates for people with low incomes, disabilities say many could benefit from service if they knew about it Cameron MacLean, CBC News
Posted: Oct 15, 2020

Getting to one of the six COVID-19 testing site in Winnipeg can be a daunting task for people without access to a vehicle. Anyone who is sick is told to avoid taking public transportation, and cab fare may be too expensive for many.

For months, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has offered a free ride service to help people with “very unique needs” get to a site –
but many COVID-19 test patients, as well as advocates for people with disabilities and low-incomes, told CBC News they had never heard of the service.

MPI Compensation ‘Laughable,’ Senior Says – Not Offering Enough to Replace Electric Wheelchair

By: Ben Waldman
Winnipeg Free Press, Sept. 30, 2020

Three months ago, Arthur Ray was crossing Main Street in his motorized wheelchair when a vehicle hit him and damaged the wheelchair significantly, leaving the 76-year-old without a way to safely get around.

“A lady was looking in a different direction, and she drove into me,” he said. “My wheels stopped working, the machine broke, and now, it’s basically useless.”

In his condition, he could use a walker, but only for a few metres before running out of breath. So he contacted Manitoba Public Insurance to see whether he could get compensation to purchase a replacement chair, which he said would cost about $3,000.

Disability Rights Group Sues San Diego Over Scooters On Sidewalks

March 4, 2019

Electric scooters have taken cities across the country by surprise, sometimes causing conflicts with city authorities and pedestrians. In San Diego, the scooters have led to a federal lawsuit claiming the new devices cause discrimination against people with disabilities.

The lawsuit, which was filed in a federal district court in January and seeks to be a class action, claims the city and scooter rental companies Lime, Bird and Razor have failed to prevent people from riding or parking scooters on sidewalks.

Scooters have blocked people with disabilities from accessing the public right-of-way, the plaintiffs claim, and have turned sidewalks into a “vehicle highway” where pedestrians are at risk of injury.

Winnipeg Transit Considering Priority Seating for People With Disabilities

City says current first come, first served option doesn’t line up with provincial rules around accessibility CBC News
Posted: Aug 18, 2020

The City of Winnipeg is asking the public to weigh in on whether it should create designated priority seating areas on conventional buses.

The city is doing a review of its transit system and is specifically looking at the needs of riders with disabilities, the city said in a release Tuesday.

It’s launched an online survey and discussion forum to get the public’s opinions. It takes 10 minutes to complete and will be available until Sept. 15 visit https://engage.winnipeg.ca/priorityseating?tool=survey_tool#tool_tab.

City’s Amphibious Wheelchairs Put the Beach Within Reach

Specially designed chairs can traverse soft sand, go into the water CBC News, July 13, 2020

All her life, whenever Delaney Dunlop’s friends asked her to go to the beach, she’d decline.

The 30-year-old’s battery-powered wheelchair just wasn’t built to traverse the sand.

“It took like six people to get it out of the sand,” Dunlop said of one earlier attempt.

And what was she supposed to do once she reached the water?

“Getting in and out of the water isn’t always safe for people who need assistance,” Dunlop told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning.

VIA Rail Pledges to Improve Rail Accessibility

VIA Rail Canada Inc. last week announced additional steps toward ensuring universal accessibility in order to meet requirements set out by the Canadian Transportation Agency.

To increase accessibility, VIA Rail is proposing:

telephone reservations for riders with disabilities or functional limitations unable to make reservations on the website;
curbside assistance from select station entrances to the platform, which includes wheelchair assistance, guiding assistance and assistance carrying baggage; relief areas for service animals at 80 stations;
an improved digital strategy to make information more accessible; and
on-demand availability of menus and safety cards in braille or large print on board trains.

New Transport Rules for Disabled Travellers a Step Forward but Not Enough: Advocates

Michelle McQuigge / The Canadian Press
June 25, 2020

New rules aimed at making travel within Canada safer and more accessible for people with disabilities mark a welcome step forward but don’t yet go far enough to removing long-standing barriers, advocates said Thursday as the new regulations officially came into effect.

The reforms drafted by the Canadian Transportation Agency spell out rules governing most travel between provinces by air, rail, bus or boat. They do not apply to municipal or intraprovincial travel, which do not fall under the agency’s jurisdiction.

BC Transit is Using COVID Safety Precautions as An Excuse to Infringe the human Rights of Disabled People

By Lyle Attfield
June 22, 2020

I was denied access to the bus identified above because the driver refused to let me board citing COVID 19 related safety concerns.

I, an individual who requires a scooter for mobility, assured the driver that I was physically capable of securing myself without the driver’s assistance after the driver indicated that they were not comfortable securing my scooter due to the proximity and associated COVID 19 risks. The driver still refused to allow me to board the bus.