Wheelchair stuck between train and platform

On the way home tonight, I noticed a power wheelchair user as I waited for the F train. This made me think of the work that has been done to make NYC more accessible.

One thing that I have noticed recently that I hadn’t before is how the subway cars now announce “This is an accessible station” and then provide you with the location where the elevator is. Over the years we have seen great improvements around accessibility in NYC, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Remember that wheelchair user I just mentioned before? Well, as they boarded the train, one of the wheels on their power wheelchair somehow slipped in between the train car and the platform and got stuck. A lot of folks came over to assist as did the conductor. They were unable to dislodge the chair and they called for police assistance.

As I sat waiting on further direction, I noticed some people complaining as they always do when there is a subway delay. One of them went as far to say, “They should just stand up off the chair, then it will be easier to dislodge it.” Really? That’s what they should do?

I think that we have raised a lot of awareness around disability, but clearly there is still work to be done in educating the general public when people are making statements such as that one. Furthermore, for all the improvements that we have made in public transportation, there is also still much to be done there. For instance, I noticed that the distance from the platform to the train car was really high and I bet the reason they had this trouble.

As I understand it, the police were able to respond and assist with the problem. I just hope that there wasn’t any damage to the chair. If you don’t know, it is very difficult to have a chair repaired. Also chairs are very personal and tailored to each individual user. Insurance companies are not well known for being helpful and supportive of people with disabilities so a damaged chair is a really big deal. Chair parts can be very expensive and hard to get, especially given how individually customizable they are.

We’ve made some great strides in making New York City accessible, but seeing a situation as I did today only reinforces and highlights how much more work we have to do.

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