From Country to City: A Look at Transportation in Ohio
August 7, 2018 by Guest Writer Alicia Hopkins / transportation
Accessibility and transportation go hand in hand with my need to get around my community. I am not alone; there are thousands of people around my state who utilize specialized transportation every day. Not everyone can drive or has access to a vehicle or the opportunity to utilize public transit. Having grown up in the country and now living in the city, I can tell you that depending on where you are, your access to transportation can vary.
In the city, we have paratransit programs, line bus service and access to wheelchair taxis. In the country one has to call ahead days in advance to set up any kind of transportation for even the smallest distance. Transportation is a vital need for people from all walks of life. It is often unaffordable, and, without it, people face barriers to community access. Not everyone can walk a mile or even ten. Without vital transportation services people struggle to get to doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, jobs, and even places of worship. My list can go on because the need is so great!
As a kid growing up in the rural parts of Ohio, we would have to find a neighbor to drive us two hours for a good cardiac specialist. Even then, we had to cram so much in each day because we didn’t know when we would be able to return to the city again. Even though that was so long ago, not much has changed since then. Often transportation providers come from the city to the country to pick up people. The cost is expensive.
Now I live in the city. My need for accessible transportation was so great that it forced me to plant myself in a place that had public transit, wheelchair accessible vans for medical and non-medical trips and access to ADA transportation.
I utilize every resource that I can to help me be an active member of my community. Even in the city there are still pitfalls to public transit. If a person doesn’t live close to a bus stop that runs seven days a week, they are often forced to either stay home or to utilize other means of transportation like Uber or Lyft. This can get costly. While it’s becoming more popular to use these apps, there are even greater challenges for people in wheelchairs. Uber and Lyft drivers don’t always have vehicles that can transport wheelchairs, especially power wheelchairs.
For some time I lived in a part of the city where my access to accessible transportation and line service was so limited that it forced me to think outside the box. I had to change my schedule and adapt to my location. It was aggravating. I often missed out on important things. There were times I had to pay the cost of Uber or Lyft. And since the cars couldn’t transport my power chair, it forced me to use a manual wheelchair that lessened my mobility and independence.
Having access to accessible transportation allows to be an active member of my community. Being able to use wheelchair accessible transportation allows me to go to doctor’s appointments independently. It allows me to go church, social gatherings, volunteer in my community and other events.
Having lived in multiple places in Ohio, I have learned that not everyone has many accessible transportation options. We must continue to advocate for more funds for transportation so people can be connected to their communities, supports, and programs that allow them to be independent in their communities.
Alicia Hopkins is from Northeast Ohio. She is a disability rights advocate and artist. She is currently the 2018 Ohio Miss Amazing Queen. She advocates on both state and national level for people with disabilities. She serves on the NCIL's EVV taskforce and steering committee.