Now that United Spinal's Roll on Capitol Hill event is over, I'm busy helping out with reaching out to all the attendees, collecting opinion surveys about the conference, and already beginning planning next year's conference, of course! It's exciting to get a look at the very beginning of what will definitely be a huge and event next year. During the conference, I was responsible for Tweeting photos, updates, etc to keep United Spinal's followers who weren't able to attend in the loop. I had never actually used Twitter before, but I definitely felt like a television news anchor or something. I was also able to network very easily because everyone saw me creeping around the hotel and reception area with my phone taking sneaky photos of the guests...
Although I was initially bummed that the Fourth of July didn't fall on a friday or monday, my crazy weekend getaway, in all respects, made up for it! I took a train to New York this weekend, for my inaugural visit, and it was an awesome experience.
To begin, I had never even seen real skyscrapers that close before--it was crazy to be at the base of such tall buildings! I would try to take photos but couldn't even lean back far enough to capture the tops within the picture. The one thing I should mention though is how difficult it was to get around the city. The entire first day was pretty much spent either schlepping our stuff for 20 blocks or trying to find a wheelchair-accessible cab. I get why the city is being sued--it is still okay that there is no way to call or hail a cab that a wheelchair user can get into. And NYC has a lot of cabs. There actually are a few cabs modified--I saw two during my entire stay--but there's no way to call and request one. The main cab companies claim to not have any, and even if you do happen to actually spot one on the streets, chances are they will pass you by. As the disability community constantly asks, if London has had accessible cabs since the 80's, why can't New York City? It's incredible to me that there is even opposition to this--which there strongly is. The mayor is leading this opposition.
However, after speaking to some New York acquaintances who use chairs, they assured me that it is very easy to get around the city once you know how to. If they need a ride somewhere, they can easily take a bus, which 99% are accessible. This is what I wound up doing, since the subway is not accessible, but it was slow, hot, and frustrating, as more than one driver either flat out refused to let me board or lied and said they didn't go the way I needed.
Don't get me wrong--I had a lot of fun this weekend! Id recommend seeing New York to anyone that hasn't yet, but for wheelchair users, it's important to know before hand that it will be not as quick or easy to get around and sightsee as it is for the walking population--the bus is really the only option.
But go for it! if you want to really live life, you have to be open minded and decide how much you want something--despite the inconveniences you may have to experience on the way.