Why We Can’t Afford to Ignore the Needs of Non-Drivers With Disabilities
After interviewing more than a hundred Washington state residents with mobility challenges who can’t or don’t use a car, researchers at the Disability Rights Washington found that respondents “overwhelmingly” cited “the poor condition or absence of sidewalks” as the biggest barrier to getting where they needed to go, followed closely by problems with curb cuts, crosswalks and intersections.
What they want: Frequent and reliable fixed-route transit; zoning changes to make a range of accessible housing options abundant in well-connected neighborhoods; and a revamped planning processes to center the needs of non-drivers.
Of course, many of those requests closely resemble the demands of sustainable transportation advocates on the whole. But for people with disabilities, the costs of bad community design can be far higher. A narrow, snowy, or damaged sidewalk can pose challenge for anyone pushing a stroller, that same insufficient infrastructure can force a person in a wheelchair into an impossible choice between traveling in car traffic or navigating a broken footpath that could easily injure them.