By Joe Skoog ’13
Travel is seen as an integral part of the American Dream.
Whether it be through family vacations consisting of long road trips in cramped conditions, or even driving to school, the idea of being able to travel easily is taken for granted by many, including Brophy students.
Instead of thinking about transportation as a simple mechanism of getting from point A to point B, we should recognize how being on the road can be a privilege that some are not able to access.
Just imagine getting to school every day without a car or decent public transportation.
It seems that we skirt over the issues of accessibility that are so important to our society.
Natural disasters serve as harsh reminders of this inequality by placing the plight of disadvantaged populations in the middle of our consciousness.
Examples such as failed evacuation attempts after Hurricane Katrina and more recently Hurricane Sandy show the need to understand how transportation is not always a mundane task.
How do you get thousands out of harm’s way when their only mode of transportation is walking?
Looking to accessibility in the context of democracy can help shed light on the problem of being “on the road.”
A recent study done by the American Association of People with Disabilities found that inequality was rampant in many facets of the travel industry.
It states: “Transportation and mobility play key roles in the struggle for civil rights and equal opportunity in the disability community. Affordable and reliable transportation allows people with disabilities access to important opportunities in education, employment, health care, housing and community life.”
The study goes on to cite why these inequalities have occurred.
“Because our nation’s investments in transportation infrastructure have disproportionately favored cars and highways, those who cannot afford cars or do not drive cars often lack viable transportation options…Unfortunately, adults with disabilities are twice as likely as those without disabilities to have inadequate transportation.”
This discrimination based upon bodily difference hurts our pursuit of a true democracy, according to Professor of Disability Studies at Pennsylvania State Michael Berube, who writes, “For in order to maintain a meaningful democracy in which all citizens participate as legal and moral equals, the state needs to judge whether its policies enhance equal participation in democratic processes.”
If we want to see our government be truly functional, or see that everyone is able to travel effectively, an incorporation of different perspectives into discussions of transportation is incredibly important.