Does Monroe County Believe In Access For All?

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Ericka Jones

In December, I wrote an open letter to Cheryl Dinolfo, Monroe County Executive, regarding her decision to support Ridesharing. In this letter, I discussed the need for accessible transportation in our county and went in-depth on how ridesharing currently does not fit the bill for disabled residents. Transportation options for the Disability Community are limited and it often requires us to plan our lives a week or more in advance. This leaves people with disabilities without a ride to an important family event or appointments when they come up at the last minute. This is not something non-disabled people currently have to take into account. It is frustrating that we cannot book same day trips on a whim like nondisabled people can.

However, we are hurt and angry to find that not only does the County Executive continue to support ridesharing companies like Uber or Lyft, she has completely ignored our community. This is after receiving calls to her office, writing the previous open letter, and having several news stories about how ridesharing does not work for our county if it is not accessible. She has made no attempt to even address the subject of accessibility and by doing this, she is letting disabled residents of Monroe County down.

With her silence, she is acknowledging that she does not care about issues that affect people with disabilities in Monroe County. In the past year, ridesharing companies have created a disability hierarchy by allowing service to the Deaf community, some manual chair users (but only if your chair folds easily), and more recently, riders with service animals. However, if you use a scooter, power chair, or a rigid manual chair… we keep hearing “tough luck.” Why advocate for companies that welcome some members of our community with open arms and not all of us?  This refusal is discrimination at its finest.

In the previous open letter to the County Executive, we asked who she was referencing in her letter to the county legislature. Who did she poll? I can assure you that we weren’t asked. I know I wasn’t. Instead of advocating for inaccessible ridesharing, why not advocate for a system that everyone can use? Why not advocate for young entrepreneurs to start a ridesharing service that gives rides to anyone and everyone? Heck, why not work on making our inaccessible taxis accountable for making some of their fleets accessible? Not only is ridesharing discriminatory, it makes no sense to advocate for one inaccessible form of transportation when so many other “options” are also inaccessible.

We hope that she will actually open up this topic for discussion with our community and we urge her to withdraw her support for ride-sharing companies unless they are prepared to provide rides for all people with disabilities.