On Tuesday, a judge called for a retrial of Raquel Nelson, the mother who faced up to 36 months in prison for jaywalking; she has been sentenced to 12 months probation on two counts to run concurrent with 12 months probation for another count which she was found guilty of. In April 2010, Nelson was attempting to cross a busy intersection with her three young children and was hurrying because it was getting dark. Nelson was trying to catch a bus: Like many Americans, she relies on public transportation. As a recent report points out, many low-income households do not have access to an automobile:
In addition, members of racial minorities are four times more likely than whites to use public transit to get to work. The average cost of owning a car is just about $9,500 and beyond the reach of many low-income households as it’s almost half the income of a family who meets the federal poverty level of $22,350.
Meanwhile, the federal government allocates some 80 percent of its transportation funding to highways.
These figures are from a report, Where We Need to Go: A Civil Rights Roadmap for Transportation Equity, issued by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. As Wired magazine points out, while “Many of us take our mobility for granted…. [but] getting around can be a real challenge for millions of Americans.”
In particular, it’s a serious challenge for those on low-incomes who can’t afford a car, as well as senior citizens and individuals with disabilities. A few years ago, a friend’s autistic son turned 21, which means he had aged out of school services as provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). My friend had found a center which his son could attend during the day (his son’s disabilities are such that he’s not able to work and needs 24/7 care). But there was no way for his son to get to the center, short of his parents — both of whom worked — driving him. For school children, transportation is both arranged and paid for by the school district, but it’s a different story when your child is an adult and now relies on state agencies like the Department for Health and Human Services and, after a long process, our friend was able to get transportation arranged.
Read more: accommodations, ada, aspergers, autism, bike, civil rights, developmental disability, disability, discrimination, employment, green living, idea, mental health, minimum wage, pedestrian, ppd nps, special needs, transportation, wheelchair, workers
Photo of people waiting for New Jersey Transit by Hunter-Desportes
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