When Accessible Is Anything But…

Jessica

E 180th st Train Station in the Bronx

A few weeks ago, I was supposed to take a trip to the New York Botanical Garden with some friends. After a paratransit mix up on my part, we decided to see if there was an accessible mass transit route. One of the suggested stops on the route was taking the 2 or 5 trains at E180th street in the Bronx. Although we ended up cancelling our plans, my friend and Accessibillity 4 All Co-Founder, Wanda decided to double check the station for accessibility anyway. We here at Accessibility 4 All are passionate about making sure there’s a wide variety of accessibility options, especially where transit is concerned. Some people with disabilities don’t have para transit service, others use it part time, and sometimes they need to travel beyond the parameters set by para transit. That said, Wanda went by to the E180th station the following week and said she did not see an accessible entrance. I immediately said it was a good thing we hadn’t gone that day. As a wheelchair user, I cannot take the train without an accessible entrance and/or elevator in place. During our conversation, I reasoned with her that the MTA doesn’t always do the best job of updating the details on its website. She assured me she would go back and further investigate the station, something just didn’t sit right with either one of us. Her findings will astound you in the worst possible way. I cannot believe this is what passes for accessibility in 2015, 25 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed

The next portion of this post will go as follows:

I will post photos made by Wanda of the E180th st train station. I will describe as thoroughly as possible why each photo clearly demonstrates a sheer lack of accessibility. I will also highlight the potential dangers in using this stop as a person with a disability.

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The station sign is located far away from the station building
Image Description: Black sign with white text that reads
East 180 street station at Morris Park Avenue.

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The building looks nice but when you get closer, there are stairs. Last I checked, wheelchairs don’t do stairs. Also not safe for someone with crutches, a cane, or a walking stick. The flag pole in the center is also an accident waiting to happen.

Image Description: Large Beige and White building with two side towers. A white flag pole positioned front and center, atop a concrete circle. Behind the flag pole, there is a two step staircase.

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The WORST placement of an accessibility sign EVER!!! I would have to drive my wheelchair directly up to that light post to see it!!!! Even with my glasses on, I’d squint for sure. A person with visual impairment would not be able to see or find this sign because it is so small. Not to mention, there’s no braille underneath it.

Image Description: Black Lamp post on the left, black street light post, a few feet away on the right.Street Light post (right has a very small blue and white accessibility sign near the bottom.

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Yet another horribly placed sign!!! I would have surely missed this one because it’s located up the stairs, at the side of the building. Notice how the arrow is pointing away from the building and towards the street. You’ll see why in the next image.

Image Description: Beige wall with a small, blue and white accessibility sign on a black background. White arrow on black background pointing forward, towards the street. Black trash can is on the ground underneath. Black stair rail is to the right.

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Oh look, it’s a pathway!!! A pathway made of bricks and covered in weeds!! Neither of which are safe for those with wheelchairs or walking devices, you can easily trip, fall, or get a wheel caught. What about when it gets covered with snow in the winter?! Ultimate safety hazard!! See why the previous signs are pointless? Neither of them are close or accurate enough that this pathway leads to the accessible entrance.

Image Description: A spiral pathway made of red brick, covered by thick green weeds on both sides.

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Here’s what the weeds on the pathway, look like from eye level. Eye level is the standard view of a wheelchair user. Imagine this view as you’re trying to get to the station, so you don’t miss your train. Feels like the jungle in NYC.

Image Description: Thick green weeds

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Three poorly placed signs and one long, hazardous pathway later, this is the inside of the station. A little late for automatic door switches, I’d say. 

Image Description: Doorway with adjacent red and exit sign, accompanied by black subway sign. Sign reads Morris Park Av in white text. Brown post against beige wall with silver, built in automatic door switch.

In closing, I would love to know just what the MTA was thinking during construction of this station. Then again, they probably weren’t thinking. I feel that this station should be investigated by The City of New York, renovated, and tested by actual people with disabilities.

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