Sunday, October 21, 2012

City's campaign against cars hurts the disabled

October 5, 2012
Honorable Edwin M. Lee
Carla Johnson, Acting Director, Mayor’s Office on Disability
JohnPaul Scott, Deputy Director, Mayor’s Office on Disability
Wendy James, Co-Chair, Mayor’s Disability Council
Jul Lynn Parsons, Co-Chair, Mayor’s Disability Council

Dear Mayor Lee, Carla, JohnPaul, Wendy and Jul Lynn:
I hereby resign as Chair of the Physical Access Committee (PhAC) of the Mayor’s Disability Council, effective two weeks from today.
I’ve served as Chair of the PhAC for nearly five years. Since 1990 when I began using an electric wheelchair, and even before then when I walked with difficulty, I’ve seen and experienced great progress in many aspects of disability access in San Francisco, especially in access to buildings, curb ramps at intersections and disaster preparedness. It has been a privilege and a source of pride to have helped move the ball forward on physical access as chair of this committee.
However, when it comes to access for people with major mobility disabilities, San Francisco is becoming a tale of two cities. In one city, the progress mentioned above is continuing. But in the other city, San Francisco’s campaign against cars is threatening our safety, transportation options, mobility, independence and equality of opportunity. People with major mobility disabilities, many of whom are seniors, rely heavily on private cars, paratransit and shuttle services.

The campaign against cars is harming many San Franciscans, visitors and businesses, but is having a disparate impact on us. Moreover, we are one of the most vulnerable groups of pedestrians, and the lack of serious enforcement against aggressive, dangerous and illegal behavior by bicyclists is deeply problematic and troubling.

The achievements in physical access, curb ramps and disaster preparedness are being undermined by the City’s campaign against cars and by its enabling of bad behavior by bicyclists, both of which threaten to make it increasingly difficult for people with major mobility disabilities to remain in San Francisco. If it continues on its current course, this will have terrible demographic consequences that conflict with the principle, often stated by elected officials, civic leaders and San Franciscans of all stripes, of encouraging and supporting a resident population that is diverse in, among other characteristics, age, disability status, family status, income and occupation.
During the past year, I and others have communicated these concerns many times to you Mayor Lee, the Board of Supervisors, the SFMTA Board of Directors and SFMTA staff. In that time the campaign against cars has intensified and become more insidious, and our concerns have not been addressed in a major way. Therefore, after careful consideration and with regret, I have chosen to resign.

Thanks to all of you for the opportunity to have served as Chair of the PhAC and to have worked with MOD, the MDC and many other talented, dedicated San Francisco City employees and volunteers.

Howard Chabner
Mr. Chabner's critique of the Fell/Oak bike lane proposal.

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