UK Supreme Court Weighs in on Buggy vs. Wheelchair Issue

The UK Supreme Court ruled last month on a pivotal disability rights issue regarding the use of allocated wheelchair spaces on buses. The case stemmed from a 2012 incident in Leeds, where wheelchair-user Doug Paulley tried to board a FirstGroup bus, but a mother with a stroller who was occupying the wheelchair space refused to move. In spite of the signage that clearly states that the seats are reserved for disabled passengers, the driver would only request — not require — that she move. Ultimately Mr. Paulley was left at the curb. Continue reading

French Court Fines easyJet Again

Once again France has stepped in to remedy access problems caused by British budget air carrier easyJet. In response to a criminal complaint filed by Joseph Etcheveste, last month a French court fined the air carrier €60,000 for their failure to allow the plaintiff to board his 2010 flight from Biarritz. Mr. Etcheveste is a wheelchair-user who was traveling unaccompanied, and according to easyJet, that was a “security problem”. Continue reading

VIA Rail to Upgrade Access in 2018

Canada’s national rail provider – VIA Rail recently announced that it plans to add more wheelchair tie-downs to their rail cars in 2018. And although this is great news to disability advocates, this access upgrade didn’t come without a battle. A battle that began back in 2016, when Marie Murphy and Martin Anderson traveled from Windsor and Toronto to on VIA Rail.

Both Murphy and Anderson have cerebral palsy and use mobility scooters. Under VIA Rail’s policy at that time, since each rail car only had one tie-down, if there were two passengers with assistive devices, then one passenger had to transfer to a seat and have his assistive device stowed in the luggage car. That’s exactly what Anderson did, but because VIA employees did not disassemble it, it sustained damage. So the pair filed a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).

They argued that the wheelchair tie-down area is the only risk-free place to transport scooters; and the lack of multiple tie-downs essentially prevents couples from traveling together. They also held that even though the Rail Code only requires one tie-down per car, this minimum standard may not always suffice, and that adding another tie-down would be a reasonable accommodation.

The CTA found in their favor, and ordered VIA Rail to provide multiple tie-downs. That was back in February 2017.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of things. VIA Rail protested the ruling, and held that the installation of additional tie-downs would pose an undue financial hardship on them.

The CTA ruled that additional tie-down areas are a reasonable and financially viable accommodation, especially since VIA Rail’s trains in Western Canada often have three-or four tie-downs.

Ultimately VIA Rail announced in December 2017 that it would comply with the CTA ruling and install multiple tie-downs in all of their rail cars. “Via Rail is committed to providing sustainable, reliable and accessible intercity travel for all Canadians,” company president Yves Desjardins-Siciliano said in a statement. “Thanks to our revised policy, more people with mobility restrictions will be able to travel together.”

This new policy went into effect on January 3, 2018.

Power Beach Wheelchairs Available on Alabama Beaches

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Power Beach Wheelchair Available for Rent in Gulf Shores, AL

I first discovered power beach wheelchairs in my home state of California, and immediately I thought they were super cool. These motorized chairs with balloon tires allow wheelchair-users independent access to the beach, and independence is a very good thing if you’re a wheelchair-user. After all wouldn’t you rather navigate the coastline on your own, instead of being pushed around by somebody else? Suffice it to say I was very impressed with the whole concept. Continue reading

Free Parking for Disabled Vets at Florida Airports

Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law last week that gives disabled veterans free parking at all Florida airports. This is actually the second go round at this legislation, as a similar bill was adopted in 2015; however it only granted free parking to veterans that drive adapted vehicles. Continue reading

Cruisers Beware – Access Varies From Line to Line

adventure-of-the-seas-1By now, you’ve probably heard the story of wheelchair-user Ann Fisher, who was denied passage from Liverpool on the Fred Olsen liner Boudicca. The problem is, Liverpool doesn’t have any overhead boarding bridges or sloped gangways, so passengers have to board vessels by climbing up stepped gangways. And if they can’t do this with “minimal assistance” they won’t be allowed to cruise. Continue reading

Detroit Airport Under Fire by Disability Advocates

Like many wheelchair-users, Paul Palmer uses public transportation to get to and from the airport. And for a long time that worked out just fine for him at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. That is until the airport moved their bus loading/unloading zone from the terminal, to the far end of the half-mile-long Ground Transportation Center located across the street. Continue reading

Uber Charts a Different Accessible Course in San Francisco

Last December ride-share giant Uber rolled out an accessible ride program in Washington DC. On the surface it seemed like a good idea, as they partnered with wheelchair-accessible cabs in the District to provide services to wheelchair-users. As I pointed out in a previous blog though, this might not be the most sustainable approach. Continue reading

Is Uber Wheelchair Ride Program Sustainable?

taxi-200x300Late last week Uber rolled out their much anticipated accessible ride program in Washington DC. As their press release touts, this new option enables riders to request a wheelchair-accessible vehicle on-demand. And you can use the Uber app to order one in a matter of seconds. What could be better — an affordable wheelchair-accessible ride dispatched to you with a few swipes and a tap? Continue reading