The Back Story
Kelley Simoneauxr is a 34 year old lawyer and mother of two living in the Washington D.C. area. She also uses a wheelchair for mobility following a car wreck that caused a spinal cord injury in 2001. One evening, following dinner with a friend, Kelley requested a ride home on her Uber app. A driver arrived about 5 minutes later in a minivan. He did not exit the vehicle. Instead, an employee at the hotel Kelley was leaving, opened the front door of the Uber van where she could independently transfer into the front seat and asked if he could help place the wheelchair in the trunk. Kelley graciously accepted, but before the valet could roll her chair to the trunk area, the driver looked up, jumped out of the van, and said he could not put the wheelchair the van. The driver refused to allow the wheelchair in his van stating there was no room. Surprised, Kelley explained that her wheelchair was lightweight and could easily be broken down to the size of a small suitcase. He refused Kelley a ride that night solely based on her using a wheelchair (while charging her for a fake ride he created after leaving her on the side of the road).
Shocked by this encounter, Kelley began surveying the depth of this issue, and unfortunately found that this type of practice was happening with alarming frequency across the United States. Individuals with mobility disabilities are literally being left on the curb by Transportation Network Providers (TNPs), more commonly known as ride shares.
Moreover, Kelley’s personal experience of being denied a ride does not even account for the many individuals with a mobility disability who have never been able to use TNPs at all based on a lack of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs). As the gig economy, fueled largely by ride shares, continues to take an overwhelming stake in transportation market, Wheel2Ride was created to provide a voice for the mobility disability community in pushing for meaningful change that will result in greater access to rideshare platform.