Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams last Wednesday joined dozens of students with disabilities at Edward R. Murrow High School in Midwood, one of the city’s most accessible school buildings, to launch “Barrier-Free BK,” his initiative to improve accessibility for youth with physical limitations.
According to the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), there are 342,000 young people in New York City who are living with disabilities.
About 10 percent of the nearly one million New Yorkers of all ages who have self-identified as living with disabilities are estimated to use wheelchairs.
Joined by local elected officials, such as State Senator Simcha Felder, Council Member Kalman Yeger and District Leader David Schwartz, Adams spoke with students about daily access barriers that hamper their independence and limit their ability to navigate the city.
“‘Barrier-Free BK’ is not groundbreaking; it is simply a call to action for greater accessibility, in a quicker fashion, to allow our young people and people of all ages to fully participate in society,” he said.
“Our conversations with young people have generated important feedback on transit accessibility, open space accessibility, and the need to make our City-supported public events truly accessible,” he added. “We hope to reimagine a city that works for all ability levels.”
Allen Barge, principal of Edward R. Murrow High School, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Borough President Adams for affording our students with the opportunity to voice their concerns and be agents of change in New York City.”
As part of “Barrier-Free BK,” Adams made several recommendations to expand access to mass transit, including on-demand ride needs, as well as ensure parks and public venues better support for people with physical limitations.
Most urgently, he called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to immediately expand its e-hail pilot program to all Access-A-Ride users throughout New York City.
Adams said the program that launched in November 2017, with a limited population of 200 Access-A-Ride users, which allows riders to use Access-A-Ride as they would hail a cab for on-demand trip bookings throughout New York City, has proven successful, according to feedback from stakeholders in the pilot program.
The MTA’s review of the pilot program found that the e-hail program costs $36 per rider on average compared to $69 on average for the same Access-A-Ride trip, according to Adams.
Additionally, Adams urged the City Council to pass legislation, introduced by Council Member Diana Ayala at his request, which would permit Access-a-Ride vehicles to use bus lanes.
“Whether it’s using Access-A-Ride or getting into Brooklyn’s subway stations, parks, or landmark buildings, there’s just a lot to do to make the borough more accessible,” said Valerie Joseph, Access-A-Ride advocate for the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled (BCID).
“Borough President Adams’ report highlights many smart proposals to achieve true access and full civil rights for us all,” she added.