Michael Bloomberg–the billionaire mayor of my fair city, New York–has recently kept busy spouting ignorant remarks about people with disabilities. In response to a push from the Justice Department and others to increase the fleet of disability-friendly taxis in the city, Bloomberg brushed the aside accessibility concerns because “suspension [of accessible cabs] is much worse, so the average person riding in them finds them really uncomfortable.” Well, Mr. Mayor, as an able-bodied New Yorker, I feel compelled to say that I can’t imagine a suspension system creakier than whatever outfits your current fleet, but even if you’re right, I’d happily tolerate a little more bumping around if my “un-average” neighbors could have an easier time hitching a ride.
You think that’d be enough offensiveness for one mayor, but Bloomberg isn’t the kind of man who does things half-way. Nope, he also stated his belief that it’s dangerous for people in wheelchairs to hail cabs, and went on a strained tangent about people with disabilities sitting too far from the taxi drivers, which leads them to be stingy tippers or something. The mayor accused the Justice Department of not understanding “how people live in the city and the traffic patterns and that sort of thing.” Disability rights advocates fired back:
“The mayor’s completely out of touch,” said Assemblyman Micah Kellner, a Manhattan Democrat who was born with cerebral palsy. “When was the last time Mayor Bloomberg used a New York City taxi or a wheelchair?”
Added Edith Prentiss of the Taxis For All Campaign: “It’s a sad day for New York City when a mayor works so hard to deny people like me the right to take a taxi. It’s wrong, it’s indefensible,and it won’t stand.”
The contact information for the Mayor’s office can be found here, and you can send a tweet in his direction @MikeBloomberg. Let’s make sure he starts thinking carefully about all of his constituents and reconsiders his offensive comments and ill-considered taxi policies.