Last week the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrated 30 years. On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. The law prohibits discrimination by local and state governments and provides standards for privately owned businesses and commercial facilities, against discrimination in the workplace, ensures equal access to healthcare, social services, telecommunications, and transportation. Transportation is crucial to many aspects of our lives such as employment, staying connected with family and friends, and access to healthcare. According to USDOT, 25.5 million Americans have travel-limiting disabilities.
Although ADA has made a big difference in the life of many Americans, more work needs to be done. The world we built around driving is not working for 32% of Americans. They are children without access to a car, those who disabilities that make driving hard or not possible, and senior citizens. And the number impacted will increase by 2034, when older Americans will number 77 million of the U.S. population. For their sake we need to keep working on making our communities accessible and safe for all those who cannot or do not want to drive. There are many examples of how we can make this work, and one comes from the Dutch.
Their cycling infrastructure makes it possible for people with disabilities, seniors, children, and people who do not drive, to have accessible means of transportation. It allows people with disabilities to use mobility scooters to get to their destination without worrying about having someone driving them or speed of traffic. Their infrastructure is good for people from 8 to 80 and for people with disabilities. And as Gil Penalosa, the founder of 8-80 Cities says: “If everything we do in our public spaces is great for an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old, then it will be great for all people.”