NEWS AND ISSUES
June 15, 2010
New York City Department of Transportation
40 Worth Street
New York NY 10013
Dear Commissioner Sadik-Khan,
I am writing regarding a matter that was brought to my attention by Manhattan Community Board 3 member, disability-rights advocate and multi-faceted community activist Harry Wieder shortly before his death on April 27, 2010.
Harry observed that in recent years, the New York City Department of Transportationfs (DOT) practice of changing parking regulations and reclaiming parking spaces for other purposes dramatically reduced the number of legal parking spaces available to mobility impaired people with valid Special Vehicle Identification (SVI) parking permits. Likewise, street closures and tighter parking and standing restrictions have inhibited buses, Access-a-Ride vans and other accessible vehicles from dropping off disabled riders as close as possible to many popular destinations. For a person with limited mobility, an extra block to travel or a curb-like structure to climb may be an insurmountable barrier. I believe Harryfs observations are accurate and I urge the Department to verify the veracity of his observations as well.
In addition, as you are aware, tragically, public transit options for people with limited mobility are grossly inadequate and fewer than 3% of the licensed taxicabs in the city are accessible to wheelchair users. Thus such accommodations as providing convenient SVI permit parking and places for New York City Transit buses and Access-A-Ride vans to stand are critical to making New York City more accessible to its mobility impaired residents.
With Harryfs advocacy in mind, I urge DOT to establish a formal review process through which to analyze the projected impacts of agency initiatives on the accessibility of the affected areas, and to either reverse policies that would impinge upon the mobility of disabled people or implement mitigations. I also call upon DOT to explore the ways in which the existing rules and transportation infrastructure affect persons living with disabilities so that accessibility may be improved. In the meantime, DOT should place a moratorium on any new traffic and parking regulations, unless there is an overriding safety imperative, until such a review has been conducted and necessary corrections made.
DOTfs ongoing effort to encourage safe, environmentally-friendly and healthy modes of transportation in our City is commendable and I applaud the vision and commitment. I look forward to continuing to work with you to assist in this effort.
I am confident that our City can be made more accessible to all of those who live, work, and visit here, and, further, that DOT initiatives can be crafted to both encourage alternate modes of transportation and ease transportation challenges for disabled people.
We can honor Harryfs life of advocacy by working together to ensure that all New Yorkers, from drivers to cyclists to pedestrians, disabled and non-disabled, can use thoroughfares safely, seamlessly, and with convenience.
Thomas K. Duane
New York State Senate