GLOBAL ACCESS NEWS TRAVEL E-ZINE
VOLUME VI, NUMBER 5, May 2005
Copyright © 2005, Global Access News

http://www.globalaccessnews.com/


Please note: Any Internet links mentioned in this E-Zine were verified as functioning as of the date on this E-Zine. Websites and e-mail addresses, however, change frequently, so changes may have occurred after that date.

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Welcome to the May 2005 issue of the Global Access News Travel E-Zine. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to write us and share your travel experiences.

CONTENTS

1. SPAIN: ACCESSIBLE APARTMENTS
2. SOUTH AFRICA: OYSTER CATCHER LODGE
3. YOSEMITE ACCESS
4. NEW YORK CITY TAXIS
5. FLORIDA BEACH ACCESS
6. NEW ORLEANS

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1. SPAIN: ACCESSIBLE APARTMENTS


Thanks to Paul D. for sending us this link to wheelchair accessible apartments on the Orange Blossom Coast of Spain. These are adapted ground-floor holiday accommodations that sleep up to six guests and offer wheel-in showers, shower chairs and bed and toilet seat raisers in rooms. Units have air-conditioning, fully equipped kitchens and living rooms with television, video and sound systems.
The property is located in a protected national park with beaches and restaurants and is near mountain villages and cultural treasures such as Morella, Peniscola and Valencia. To learn more, visit http://www.accessibleapartments.co.uk/

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2. SOUTH AFRICA: OYSTER CATCHER LODGE


Jenny, of Cape Town, South Africa, highly recommended the access of the Oyster Catcher Lodge, located on Shelley Point. St. Helena Bay on the West Coast of South Africa, not far from Cape Town. http://www.oystercatcherlodge.co.za/accommodation.html

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 3. YOSEMITE ACCESS


Check out this excellent report on Yosemite National Park access in the April 24th issue of the “San Francisco Chronicle.” If a trip to that beautiful park is in your travel itinerary, this article offers some up-to-date access tips. It may not remain online long, so see it while available at
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/04/24/TRGAQCCP4H1.DTL

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4. NEW YORK CITY TAXIS


Howard Chabner, who has shared several excellent access reports on his European travels with us, recently experienced the pitiful lack of accessible taxis in New York City. His following account will prepare you for the access conditions there and perhaps encourage people to join his TAXIS FOR ALL CAMPAIGN. Please take the time to read the following and demand greater transportation access in this world famous city.

Please Help Make New York City Taxis Wheelchair Accessible
Contact: Howard L. Chabner
hlchabner@jps.net

Last year I visited Manhattan for the first time in many years. I use an electric wheelchair and was appalled to find that New York taxis continue to be inaccessible to wheelchair users. Later I learned that only three (yes - 3!) yellow taxis operating in Manhattan were accessible, in a fleet of nearly 13,000. In late 2004, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) auctioned 27 medallions for accessible taxis, so there now are around 30 accessible taxis. (A medallion is a license to operate one taxi, essentially forever.) Unlike in many other cities, taxis in Manhattan are only available by hailing; there is no dispatch system. So in order to provide a reasonable level of service, accessible taxis must be so plentiful as to be ubiquitous.

It was also nearly impossible to arrange an accessible ride to the airport with a car service - the accessible options in for-hire-vehicles (FHVs) (community livery, black cars and limousines) are extremely limited. Although a TLC rule requires each FHV company to provide wheelchair accessible service on request, at an equivalent price and service level as inaccessible transportation, the TLC apparently believes that this obligation can be met by having a contract with another provider. Based on my experience and subsequent research, it’s clear that this rule is replete with loopholes, not followed and not effectively enforced. It appears that there are only around 12 accessible FHVs in a fleet of over 40,000 in the five boroughs.

I wrote to Mayor Bloomberg, the TLC and other officials and received an evasive, platitude-filled response from the TLC and none from any other official, including the Mayor’s office and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.
Later I learned that a coalition of organizations called the Taxis for All Campaign is promoting legislation requiring all New York City taxis to be accessible. One of the main organizations in the campaign is represented by John Gresham, Esq., a lawyer at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest who is extraordinarily knowledgeable about this issue and committed to ending discrimination in New York taxis.

Although the taxi industry, with the acquiescence of the TLC, claims that providing better access would be too costly and logistically difficult, over a decade of experience in many cities throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand belies this claim. In fact, accessible lowered-floor minivan taxis are available at a reasonable cost. New medallions have recently fetched over $400,000 apiece at auction in NYC. NYC has raised tens of millions of dollars auctioning new medallions during the last year. If an operator can make a fair profit with this magnitude of cost for the license alone, then providing access certainly is economically feasible.
And the economic arguments, of course, don’t address discrimination and unfairness. It is particularly ironic that New York City, whose leaders and residents like to think of it as the capital of the world and on the cutting edge of everything, is so far behind other major cities in this quintessential New York City transportation mode.

How Can You Help End Discrimination and Achieve Fairness? If you have ever traveled to NYC, lived there, done business there or had friends or relatives there, please write to the NYC officials listed below urging them to require that all taxis be wheelchair accessible. Be very brief (unlike this information letter). Include personal experiences about lack of taxi access in NYC and good experiences you may have had with accessible taxis in other cities. It’s important to emphasize basic fairness, and also to appeal to New York pride and economic interests, including tourism. If lack of taxi and car service access has deterred you from visiting NYC and spending money there, explain why. Also, although the proposed legislation doesn’t address FHVs, if you’ve had difficulty finding accessible FHVs in NYC and/or good experiences elsewhere, please include those experiences also. THANK YOU!!!
Please write to:

1. Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Fax 212-788-2460. To send an e-mail, fill out an online form at www.nyc.gov Bloomberg is running for re-election in November.

2. Honorable A. Gifford Miller, Speaker, New York City Council.
Fax: 2-788-7207.

miller@council.nyc.ny.us

Miller is running for mayor n November.

 3. Honorable John C. Liu, Chair, Transportation Committee, New York City Council.
Fax 212-788-8964.
liu@council.nyc.ny.us

 4. Honorable Margarita Lopez, Chair, Disability Access Committee, New York City Council. Fax 212-614-8813. lopez@council.nyc.ny.us

Also email her legislative assistant Anne Emerman at Anne.Emerman@council.nyc.gov

Please send a copy to John Gresham, Esq. at jgresham@nylpi.org

The following journalist has been covering taxi access issues: Michael Luo, Metro Reporter, New York Times. Fax 212-556-690.uo@nytimes.com
Other relevant organizations and officials are:
Cristyne L. Nicholas
President & CEO
NYC & Company
810 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10019
Fax 212-245-5943

www.nycvisit.com


(NYC & Company is the city’s official visitors and convention bureau.)
Lynn Brooks
Executive Director/Founder
Big Apple Greeter
1 Centre Street, Suite 2035
New York NY 10007
Fax 212.669.3685

information@bigapplegreeter.org
(Big Apple Greeter is a non-profit tourism organization.)


Patricia L. Gatling, Chair and Commissioner
Susan R. Scheer, Commissioner
New York City Human Rights Commission
40 Rector Street, 10th Floor
New York, New York 10006
Phone 212-306-5070
E-mail by online form at
www.nyc.gov

Matthew Sapolin
Executive Director
Mayors Office for People with Disabilities
100 Gold Street, 2nd Floor
New York, New York 10038
Fax 212-341-9843
E-mail by online form at
www.nyc.gov

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5. FLORIDA BEACH & PARK ACCESS


While about.com didn’t actually provide much usable data on accessible beaches, this page does offer good links to Florida’s accessible parks. So if you’re heading there to enjoy the great outdoors of venues like the Everglades or Big Cypress parks, you may want to check out the links at http://goflorida.about.com/cs/gettingtoflorida/a/disabled_beach.htm

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6. NEW ORLEANS

Steve Coveney and Janet Doherty share their access impressions of a recent trip to "The Big Easy." Steve included a handy list of links to many of the places they visited, and don't miss the link to his top quality trip photos. http://www.globalaccessnews.com/neworleans05.htm

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Global Access News welcomes your travel reports, tips and comments at clearpath@cox.net Thanks for sharing!

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