As many mobility managers are all too aware, great resources don’t matter if people can’t reach them. Communities can suffer from a lack of access to a number of essential aspects of daily life, such as health care, jobs, and even food. The bright side is that there are communities, agencies, and advocates whose programs mobility managers can explore to see how they fit in with their own goals.
In Kenosha County, Wisconsin, the local transit system, the Aging and Disability Resource Center, and Congregations United to Serve Humanity are teaming up to help residents understand the barriers that mobility-challenged people face, particularly when they lack access to personal vehicles. The three organizations held their first Transportation Expo to educate their community about the important role public transportation plays in connecting people in need with essential resources.
Updates from Texas communities affected by Harvey reinforce Kenosha County’s message as low-income residents struggle to get back to work after losing their cars to flooding. In an area with weak to nonexistent public transportation options, people without cars – and who can’t afford to buy new ones – are struggling to reach the very resources that would get them back on their feet.
Mobility managers are well aware of the critical role that transportation plays in reaching health care. Current efforts in the United States Congress could dramatically change, or eliminate, non-emergency medical transportation availability for Medicaid patients, and ultimately have a negative effect on the overall health care system.
Liberty Mobility has launched a pilot in Kearney, Nebraska with local workforce development nonprofit Kearney Works to make sure community members have equal access to job opportunities.
In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, St. Luke’s hospital has started working with Feed Iowa First to provide free healthy food to locals in need at the hospital. The program stems from the idea to remove one pain point for low-income individuals who have to make impossible decisions among paying for health care, transportation, housing, food, and other essentials. Even though this particular program doesn’t focus on moving people, it is still important for mobility managers to consider in terms of centralizing resources, or even bringing them out to community members.
Finding Their Way
In communities where cars aren’t the only mobility option, there is a growing focus on making it easier for people with disabilities to navigate their options. Chicago’s CTA, for example, is creating bus stop signs with braille or raised lettering to help visually-impaired passengers.
Other cities are also looking to help visually-impaired pedestrians navigate their intersections. Considering most streets are still designed for moving cars rather than welcoming pedestrians, even being fully mobile is risky, meaning it is that much more dangerous for people with disabilities. One pilot in New York City is exploring tactile maps to improve visually-impaired pedestrians’ understanding of the intersection they are about to cross.
In technology news, Google is leveraging the ubiquity of its Maps feature to help people with mobility challenges navigate their communities. The company is crowdsourcing data from users by asking them to answer five accessibility-related questions when submitting reviews, such as if a building has accessible entrances or bathrooms.
Similarly, though this article is from last year, it is worth considering and following the concept of “smart” transit systems that empower passengers with disabilities and give them confidence to travel alone.
Giving people with disabilities better travel resources, and making sure all community members can reach them, underpins the mission of mobility managers. Thankfully the mobility management network, even if professionals don’t refer to themselves this way, is growing and providing ideas like these to improve people’s lives.
Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Andrew Carpenter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Image Credit: Braille Institute, Flickr, Creative Commons