In December, I suffered a pretty serious injury as a result of the thoughtless actions of some here in Dallas. I reached out to my local officials, wrote and op-ed and even contacted the news. NBC 5 here in Dallas at least came out to interview me. As of today the interview has not aired but in my communications with them they seem to be interested in airing the story and my plea to the city to step in and solve this problem impacting the disabled. This is important to me since my contacts with the city, the print media, organizations purporting the support of the disabled and anybody else who would listen have gone largely ignored.
As an example of how time may change but things tend to remain the same today, having some mobility back, I ventured out only to crash and burn on the same careless landmines left scattered on the sidewalks of Dallas. Dropping my shopping bag and my cane to brace myself from the fall I got back to my feet and thankfully only my ego was bruised. At that moment, a very kind man rushed across the street to see if I was ok. Other than a bruised ego, this time, I was fine. He went on to say that he hated these bikes and I asked that he simply call the city, contact his local representatives. He responded that he had. I do want to thank him, for at least caring enough to see if I was ok.
I am told that there is a meeting today about this issue, has anybody reached out to me or members of my community to listen to our concerns, no. As someone who is blind you exist in a world where we don't see you and apparently you choose not to see us. This story has been told, told in the very first piece I wrote, “Building Walls” and like I have stated shared with everybody. So claiming that you haven’t heard a dissenting opinion or concerns is not believable. I feel compelled to reiterate that I am not doing this, drawing attention to this as a selfish act or taking the position that I am some aggrieved individual who is bent on ending this program. To be honest, during my interview with NBC 5 I made the point that mine was merely a cautionary tale offered to raise public awareness. I do not want to end this program, I want this program to work because I do see it as a benefit to the city, a way to ease traffic congestion and serve the general public. However, I also want to raise awareness to the fact that when these bikes are parked or dropped in the middle of the sidewalk, discarded casually they represent a clear and present danger for those with mobility issues. This is not about me, it is about those in wheelchairs, on crutches, blind or just simply struggle with mobility. I will continue to speak out and write about this and I ask that you continue to share this with friends, with folks here in Dallas, with city officials and with the media because public awareness has to be raised. Sorry, I am just at my wits end with this bike sharing freebie program in which apparently there are no regulations, requirements or solutions. As I stated in the op-ed (that was never picked up), walk a mile in my shoes because I can’t ride even 10 feet on your free bike, then see how you like the 18 THOUSAND plus bikes dumped on the streets of Dallas making us the largest repository of landmines for those with mobility challenges. Today this is an issue for the disabled in Dallas, tomorrow it may be the plague visiting your city.
As a post script to this latest piece. The result of the meeting that I referenced taking place today, the end result was an announcement that they would hold off until the Fall to resolve it. The Fall, how many disabled or mobility challenged will actually “fall” before eyes are opened? Here is a link ( http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/dallas-bike-share-regulations-to-wait-until-the-fall-10414712 ) to an article that speaks to the ignorance and arrogance of those sitting in seats of power. Everybody on that council has heard from me, they have received thousands of complaints about this program. This begs the question, why? Why have those charged with serving the public chosen to do nothing, to ignore the challenges of the disabled? I have my theories, my beliefs on this but rather than launching into a rant I will simply ask that we, the public, continue to raise this issue and force those charged with serving us to make this program work for everyone rather than to take a sit back and wait approach.