Action Kit: Transportation services


Ensure that the design of public transportation services supports accessibility by persons with HMD, including the ability to use cars in order to be mobile.

Main message:

Millions of people have functional limitations in the distance they can walk and the time they can stand unsupported. Much of the public transportation network, in all modalities, unfortunately requires extensive walking and standing; and there has been recent policy pressure to disadvantage the use of cars.

“If not for my car, I would never be able to get out. If I’m not sure how far I will have to walk, I just don’t go.”

Those with HMD need design principles to address their activity limitations if they are to make use of public transportation:

  • Short distances to walk:  35-50 feet, but no more than 70 feet.
  • Brief periods to stand:  1-2 minutes, but no more than 5 minutes.

Types of accommodation needed:

  • Airports need to have shorter walk distances, easily reached alternatives to standing for service or self-service, and immediately available wheelchair assistance for distance.
  • Urban bus routes need to be available without a 50-foot walking radius, with seating for waits.
  • Ferries and other aquatic transportation need to limit distances for walk-ons to 50 feet or else provide transportation from parking or public transit to the ferry.
  • See suggested accommodation guidelines.

Sample email:

Because of [the reasons for writing], I’m writing to share with you highlights of research on the lived experience of persons with hidden mobility disabilities – those who are able to walk but only a short distance and able to stand unsupported but only for a short time. The specific findings, which are detailed at are that:

  • Short distance = 35-50 feet, or at most 70 feet
  • Brief time = 1-2 minutes, or at most 5 minutes

Requirements to walk further or stand longer have serious health consequences and prevent persons with hidden mobility disabilities from engage in community activities.

Please share these findings with colleagues and other interested parties, especially given that the commonly-used definition of “walkable” (incorporated into the Walkability Index) is .25 miles or 1,320 feet – far beyond the distance that persons with hidden mobility disabilities can walk. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what changes you can effect to improve the ability of persons with HMD to participate fully and effectively in community life, particularly with regard to [the specific changes you are requesting].

Resources to use:

Examples of people to target:

  • Urban planners
  • Urban staff responsible for various types of public transportation
  • Managers of airports, bus lines, ferries