Socialism Art Nature

A New York City subway rider explains her campaign to make train stations consistently wheelchair-accessible.

MY NAME is Michele. I am an activist from Brooklyn, N.Y.

On Tuesday, July 10, I was at the Con Ed picket line in downtown Brooklyn, showing some love for the unions, when I decided to head home. I took the same train (Q), same subway station (DeKalb Avenue) that I took to get there. However, when I tried to get on the subway car, my motorized wheelchair got stuck. And I don’t mean as in a little stuck, and I could just back up—stuck to the point where it took two burly-looking passengers to get me unstuck and onto the subway car.

There are currently 423 subway stations in New York City. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) claims that 73 of them are wheelchair-accessible—that riders in wheelchairs have access to them since wheelchairs lack the ability to climb stairs. However, these stations and platforms are NOT consistently so.

Even if a rider checks the MTA website to make sure the elevators are working and there is no construction that might effect their route, and even if they only start and end their trip with wheelchair accessible stations, it’s still like Russian Roulette. You don’t know what’s going to happen.

I have written the MTA, and each time I get the same response: “Thank you for taking the time to bring this to our attention. We will pass this on to the appropriate supervisors.” And then nothing changes.

Tuesday was hardly the first time I was put in a dangerous situation courtesy of the MTA. So finally, I decided I had had enough, and I was going to fight back—which is when I started the Mind The Gap campaign.

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