I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.
There comes a point in time when something looks good on paper, but in reality it is a terrible idea and it comes time to re-evaluate that original decision.
Take Simon Properties decision to move a bus stop that dropped you off on the curb, near an entrance to Southridge Mall, 1000 feet and through the parking lot to get to the stores. It is time to realize this is a terrible idea and it is time to allow the buses to return to dropping off employees and shoppers where it is convenient for them, isn’t that what most of the merchants are preaching to their employees, customer service? In this case, it doesn’t seem like Simon Properties cares about those people who ride the bus.
One of the reasons given is that it is safer. Safer for who? How many accidents have occurred with buses near the mall entrance or with buses in general leaving the mall with people who have spent their hard earned dollars spending money inside the mall?
There has been talk, particularly within the disability community, about how this is cause for a great deal of hardship for individuals with disabilities. Take this YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrI7RUeNkvk&feature=youtu.be) showing an individual navigate from the bus stop to the stores in his wheelchair. This is not something that I would wish on anybody, I know many individuals that ride the bus and rely on it to be connected to their community. Not just individuals with disabilities, but also teens, my daughter and her friends take the bus to the mall. People who work in the mall. There is the elderly population that also rides public transportation. Can you imagine leaving the mall after dark and having to navigate your way back to the bus stop with your arms or lap filled with shopping bags??
The video did not show sidewalks and lighting all the way from the bus stop to the mall entrance. How is this safer? If it is not well lit? God forbid something happens to one of these individuals at night and there is no lighting, who is liable? Who thinks that it is safer to have individuals with disabilities, frail elders or anybody for that matter, navigate more than 3 football fields to come to work or to spend money? For those of you who drive often, how often do you see drivers give the right of way to pedestrians? Heck, do they even know they are supposed to? Watch the video closely and you will see where cars don’t even appear to be paying attention to the gentleman in the wheelchair.
A lot of this came to a head for me today when I heard a news commentator state that Transit Plus is still allowed to drop off at the curb in front of the mall entrance. For years, there has been this misconception that just because you have a disability means you automatically qualify for Transit Plus. This is far from the truth. Ask anybody with a disability, regardless of a physical disability or a developmental disability, if they know of people who have failed to qualify for Transit Plus. I would say that the vast majority will tell you that they have. I know dozens of people who at one point in time qualified for Transit Plus, but no longer qualify. They rely on the Milwaukee County bus system. They still have a disability, they still move slower than most, yet they are expected to navigate more than 3 football fields to enter the mall, uphill. Navigate more than 3 football fields just to be a part of their community.
I spent many years in the transportation industry and had deliveries to Southridge mall. Trucks driving to the various docks around the mall on a daily basis, how are these trucks safer, yet a bus is not?
Simon Properties, it is time to admit that this is a bad idea and move the bus stop back to the entrance today, not after there is a tragic event.