What would you do? Showing consideration to CTA riders with disabilities

Last week I got this email from a longtime reader. She brings up an important issue of being more considerate of our fellow riders.

Dear CTA Tattler,

I have a disability, and I take the elevator when I can at L stations. Where there isn’t one or its broken, I am blessed with being able to take the stairs as long as I am able to hold onto the handrail.

Dilemma: Often when I approach the stairs, there is someone at the top blocking the handrail. They are frequently standing in front of it waiting for a friend or talking on their cellphone. I say, “excuse me.” That usually doesn’t result in them moving so I bump it up to: “Excuse me I need access to the handrail.” That usually doesn’t work either.

If someone is blocking the handrail, I usually end up having to awkwardly grab it around them. They always look confused despite my several attempts to get them to move aside on their own.

CTA Tattler, any words of wisdom? There seems to be a lack of awareness that some people actually do need to hold onto the handrail and that it’s not just for decoration. Is there a way to ask people to move without being rude?

Honestly, I’m a bit stumped. I mean, other than shoving them out of the way, I don’t know what more to tell you. You’ve politely asked them twice. I think people just really aren’t used to dealing with people with disabilities and thus aren’t used to being asked to move for someone like you.

Readers, do you have any ideas?
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  • Other than carrying a cane, and using it to poke someone in the behind, no. But it shows again how coarse CTA riders have become, in that I assume that the handrail is to be used to go up and down the stairs, not block the passageway. I suppose they don't yield the Priority Seat, either.

  • I understand this person is trying to be polite, but I would treat these people the same way I treat people who won't get out of the way while I'm trying to exit a bus or train. Just walk right through them.

  • Cheryl and Jack have said it all. These people are only caring about themselves. They do not see or want to see anyone who gets in their way. I feel sorry for them. And I feel bad for you. Just be firm on getting to the handrail. I totally understand. Just hang in there and someone will understand and help. You are not being rude, you are just being firm. And why is it, Kevin, that there cannot be better fixing of the elevators. I wheel a suitcase many times to the airport and get quite upset when those elevators do not work.

  • As a long time advocate for people with disabilities/public transit, the person that contacted CTA Tattler is handling the situation properly, and yes some people are in there own world. The CTA in the last couple of years has dropped the ball in sincere efforts in making CTA user friendly for people disabilities of all ages. While the CTA has over the last decade increased accessible features on buses, trains, some stations (Class Action lawsuit of 10 years ago), in the last couple of years has not increased awareness for user friendly service. With CTA categorizing all children in strollers as disabled for priority seating usage, it has helped to develop this atmosphere, which in turn has helped to increase regular Pace paratransit use with some in Chicago.
    Jim W. at Ability Chicago

  • In reply to AbilityChicago:

    As a disabled person I am incensed at Emanuel's treatment of the disabled by removing free parking to enrich his campaign contributors. Why isn't Ability Chicago actively lobbying against him?

  • In reply to Westloopeducator:

    OK, call me a heartless bastard, but why should the handicap get free parking? I completely understand reserving parking spots close to stations, stores, etc, but why at no charge?

  • In reply to Westloopeducator:

    What does what you are saying have to do with what this article is about. If you would like to address the subject, I would be more then happy to reply.

  • Oh, there's a definite attitude problem out there, but I don't know what the answer is. Most (though not all) of the readers of this blog seem to get that other people who don't match their level of youth and fitness ought to be treated as people too, not as mere obstacles getting in their way, out to slow them down rather than simply being there for the same legitimate purpose, going somewhere. Perhaps they are taken as an uncomfortable reminder that no human being remains young and strong forever. As if they deserve blame rather than consideration.

    I'm not sure if further explanation will do any good. Even experiencing a temporary disability oneself isn't a guaranteed learning experience for some.

  • I'd like more info, specifically, what stations is she going to?
    One serious problem on the CTA for decades is that people stay at the top of the stairs to be out of the weather. The same goes at the bottom of the stairs on the Dan Ryan stations, where people now crowd inside the doors at Garfield, making it difficult to go up & out to the street, along with all the people that gather around the doors on the sidewalk, with some of them trying to get a transit card with value left over to use!

    So are these the people she's complaining about?

  • I slipped after stepping on to a down escalator at Union Station 2 years ago, and if I hadn't been holding the handrail, I would have landed on my back, and tumbled the full length of the escalator. I wound up with a strained ligament in my wrist from bearing the majority of my weight, but it sure beat a broken back.

    Ever since then I've been totally paranoid about holding handrails on stairs and escalators, regardless of my physical capabilities.

    I have a coworker who told me that they were traveling in Europe, and a stranger admonished them for not holding the handrail when walking down the stairs. It appears that there is a rather successful safety campaign there to help avoid falls on the stairs.

    The stations are poorly designed from a traffic flow perspective. Too many choke points. As my Brown line train pulled out of Washington/Wells today, I realized what a deathtrap the station has become. The line to get out of the station basically stretched the entire length of the platform. If there was an emergency, and people needed to evacuate the platform, there would be be dozens of fatalities, as there is nowhere to go other than leap to the street below.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    And that's one of the "newer" ones. I suppose you don't want to imagine Wabash-Adams.

  • In reply to jack:

    Loyola & Granville are worse!
    Only a single exit stairway at each platform.
    The original Loyola platform had four stairways!

  • Quincy is almost as scary as Washington/Wells with the lines of people to get out.

  • In reply to mlgski:

    Yeah, agreed. Let's face it. More or less every station is piss poorly designed. I'm guessing the designs were done by the lowest bidder, and not anyone with any knowledge of traffic flow.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I'm sure it is more keeping the paid area as paid as possible, since the only means of egress are rotogates and turnstiles.

  • In reply to jack:

    Then it's quite simple, add more one-way turnstiles.There should be a minimum of 3 turnstiles at each corner, not one.

  • No kidding. Quincy/Wells is another one. Heavy traffic, a narrow platform, and too few turnstiles.

  • Maybe the people in question had earphones on and couldn't hear you. Not wanting to defend, but simply trying to understand why someone might not move out of the way when asked twice.

  • Poke them with your finger and ask them to "please move; I need to use the handrail!" If that doesn't work, then just mow them over. That's what I do, when people don't move outta my way on the bus and I want to get to the rear. You know--where you're supposed to go when you get on the bus?!?

  • In reply to mulder42:

    Maybe all disabled CTA riders should learn krav maga or Brazilian jiu jitsu. I'm not sure if I am being facetious with this comment.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, I have been suggesting cattle prods for years....

  • The CTA does not care about disabled people .They fired a disabled electrical worker 70 years old at the Skokie ,Illinois CTA. You can thank them and the General Manager Tom Dietrich.

  • In reply to David Mackie:

    Is somebody filing a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission or EEOC? Posting here isn't going to do any good.

  • In reply to David Mackie:

    The "not caring" is a load of crap, and if you're going to add fuel to the fire, at least provide some facts and context, and maybe in complete sentences.

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