The best part about going out with friends in a big city is that no one has to think about driving home. Uber and Lyft have truly changed the world. They have made people’s lives easier because they can get a ride to where they need to in a short amount of time. Traveling has never been more convenient. 

However, you might not realize that Uber and Lyft actually are less accessible and more of an inconvenience for people in wheelchairs. 

National Public Radio’s Eric Westervelt reported that disability rights advocates are upset because they believe people with wheelchairs are not given equal transportation access from ride-share companies. 

In Ride-Hailing Revolution Leaves Some People With Disabilities Behind, Dorene Giacopini, a 59 year old woman with Spina Bifida, claimed her driver from an unnamed ride-share service kept driving past her and her husband and didn’t pick them up. She was blatantly ignored by her driver because of her disability, and that isn’t fair. 

There is no reason for this kind of discrimination. Dorene’s driver should have served her just like any other customer, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. 

Uber and Lyft have been trying to prevent this issue from happening with UberWAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles) and Lyft’s accessible vehicle dispatch mode. With these services, customers have the ability to request drivers with ramps or lifts. 

My good friend Peter Knab uses both apps. Peter is the biggest Cleveland Indians fan that I know. He goes to countless games throughout the season, and it’s safe to say that he might not be able to get to as many games without Uber or Lyft. Peter has traveled with UberWAV to watch the Tribe in Boston, Chicago and Toronto, Canada. 

I have been in both an Uber and Lyft with Peter in Cleveland and it was definitely an experience. Peter is one of the most talkative individuals that I know. He can start a conversation in a car at anytime with anyone. His wit, humor and spirit inspire others and they give him kindness in return. In short, Peter is a people person. 

However, there is one thing that Peter doesn’t tell his Uber driver. He doesn’t tell the driver that he has a wheelchair until they pick him up. This is because his chair is easy to fold up and put in the car and he doesn’t want to scare the driver away. 

Peter should not have to worry about scaring anyone away in Cleveland. UberWAV is a service that should be in his hometown. As of November 2018, UberWAV is only available in Boston, Chicago, New York City, Toronto, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Peter is hoping that one day UberWAV will make its way to Northeast Ohio. 

“I am satisfied about 95 percent of the time with these services, but I would love to see UberWAV expand quickly,” Peter said. 

I am hopeful that accessible riding services will expand quickly, but either way, nothing will slow Peter down. 

For more information on UberWAV visit https://www.uber.com/us/en/ride/uberwav/

For more information on Lyft accessible vehicle dispatch visit https://help.lyft.com/hc/en-us/articles/115013081668-Accessible-vehicle-dispatch

Michael Reiner is a columnist. Contact him at mreiner4@kent.edu.

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