On Friday, while waiting for the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), I was standing next to a group of people. This group consisted of two women (one was sitting in a wheelchair) and a man. I later gathered that this woman in the wheelchair’s name is Helen, the man’s name is Nicki. However, it was not Helen that interested me, but Helen’s sister. Helen’s sister was on the phone with someone when I was trying to figure out her accent. During my quest to figure out her accent, I began to unintentionally eavesdrop on her one-sided conversation. What I learned from the conversation was that Nicki was in town visiting Helen, therefore, the trio have been traveling into Manhattan daily. The most interesting part of the whole conversation was when Helen’s sister said [to the person over the phone], “I’m going to write a letter to Mayor Bloomberg about this, we all have to be activists right?” She was talking about elevators and accessibility for wheelchairs, as Helen was sitting in one.
Helen’s sister sparked my thoughts of New York City’s accessibility. Here is the most up to date subway map. Did you know that there are not many wheelchair accessible subway stops in New York City? This means people with disability having to take alternative routes to circumvent subway stops that do not suffice wheelchair accessible patrons. If it normally takes someone 30 minutes to travel from point A to point B, then a wheelchair user would have a longer to travel time for the same distance. Take the 6th train’s 68th Street – Hunter College subway stop for example, is NOT wheelchair accessible. The closest wheelchair accessible stop around the 68th Street station is the F train stop on 63rd street.
Although it may be hard to get around NYC just solely using the subway if you are in a wheelchair, there are other options to use instead. For example, all the New York City buses are wheelchair accessible or using a wheelchair accessible taxi. There are a lot of online resources one can utilize to navigate through New York City such as MTA’s TripPlanner+ or MTA’s special section on Accessibility. The NYC official guide also has their own section on Accessibility. In addition a website called, Accessible NYC showcases easily accessible attractions within New York City.
Even though there are many alternative options to the subway for wheelchair users, New York City needs to create more wheelchair accessible stations. Helen’s sister said that we all have to be activists as that is how social injustices are made aware to the public. Shelby Knox, Director of Organizing, Women’s Rights for Change.org, said that the biggest danger of our generation is that we are taught to be equal, therefore, we think each of the obstacles we face is individual. Therefore, don’t wait for the world to change but to strive to help change the world.