Sections

Disabled Midwood activist has problem with Kings Highway train station

Activist says there's too much space between trains and platforms

Brooklyn Daily
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:

Midwood straphanger Michele Kaplan often gets stuck on the train, but unlike many commuters, it’s not delays or track work that slow her down — it’s the space between the subway car and the platform.

Kaplan, who uses a wheelchair, says too-steep gaps at certain stations purported to be “accessible” to disabled passengers are actually impassible, leaving her trapped part-way over the tracks if she isn’t careful.

“It is an incredibly scary experience, and I am pretty fearless in my chair,” said Kaplan, who documents her struggles commuting at her blog MindTheGapMTA.tumblr.com.

Kaplan is one of 60,000 handicapped straphangers who she claims are constantly inconvenienced by the inconsistent spacing between trains and platforms — and advocates for disabled commuters say the problems abound at supposedly wheelchair-friendly stations including Borough Hall, Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center, DeKalb Avenue, and the Kings Highway B and Q stop, among others.

The Americans With Disabilities Act stipulates that the difference in height between a train and the platform cannot be more than 5/8 of an inch — but the difference can be as much as three inches at the Borough Hall station, according to disabled rights attorney and Metropolitan Transportation Authority critic Martin Coleman.

“It’s breaking the law,” Coleman says. “This is a situation they know about, and they will not take steps to address it.”

On the Long Island Rail Road — where a teenager died after falling into the gap — MTA workers help disabled passengers board trains and even lay out sturdy ramps at problematic stations.

But not the case in the subway system.

MTA spokeswoman Deidre Parker says “there should be no need for assistance” at “accessible” stations, so long as disabled passengers enter and exit the train in a designated zone marked by signs.

Conductors can assist riders if they need it — but only at 19 “accessible” stations out of the 157 stops in the borough.

“It is important to note that not every station can be modified to permit [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliant gap tolerances at every train door,” Parker said.

But that’s no consolation for Kaplan, who after taking one fall too many, started a petition imploring the MTA to mend the gaps.

“This is an issue of safety,” the petition notes. “If the MTA lists a station as ‘Wheelchair Accessible’ then it needs to be wheelchair accessible, but it’s not consistently so.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:


Reasonable discourse

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: