Disability Mobility Initiative
At Disability Rights Washington, access to transportation is consistently listed as one of the top concerns for our constituents, and we know that more than a quarter of the people in our state don’t have a driver’s license.
Those of us who can’t drive or don’t have access to a car are more likely to be disabled, BIPOC, indigenous and immigrants. We are also elders and young people, as well as those who can’t afford to own or maintain a vehicle.
We believe in a model of change that begins with sharing our stories with each other, and documenting these stories through photo, video and on social media. Our organizing and our stories will begin to shift the narrative that only drivers in Washington State have mobility needs worth prioritizing.
We can’t wait to connect with more people across our state, the people waiting at bus stops in the rain, or trying to reach someone to confirm their paratransit pickup, the people edging their way around bushes on the shoulder of the highway. We are the transportation experts and climate leaders who will guide our state to a more equitable, accessible and sustainable future.
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Our country has been designed around the automobile as transportation, and for those of us who cannot drive or cannot afford to drive, this creates major barriers for us to access school, jobs, medical care, grocery stores, religious services and everywhere else we need to go in order to participate fully in our communities.
We know that Black, Indigenous and people of color (“BIPOC”), immigrants, poor people, elderly and disabled people are much less likely to have a driver license or access to cars, we are more likely to be transit reliant and more likely to walk or roll for transportation.
At the same time, BIPOC, disabled and elderly people, and people living in rural areas and on tribal lands face greater risks of being killed in traffic collisions because our communities lack accessible pedestrian and transit infrastructure. This is compounded by the suburbanization of poverty. People of color, immigrants and low-income disabled people are much more likely to live in areas with higher speed roads, fewer sidewalks, streetlights, or crosswalks and less frequent and reliable transit routes.
Even where reliable transit and safe pedestrian infrastructure exist, Black, brown and disabled people are forced into encounters with the criminal justice system through discriminatory enforcement of jaywalking and loitering statutes, and through fare enforcement on public transit. This enforcement can escalate into violent and deadly conflicts. And compounding fines, court fees and mandatory court appearances disproportionately harm poor members of our communities.