My power chair gives me independence for transportation in the city. I got my driver’s license at age 18. It was one of the greatest days of my life. I remember taking the exam on my car, which had a stick shift. I was so proud that I made it through the parallel parking part. When the instructor told me I had passed, I jumped out of the car to dance around even though it was raining. Then, when I was 22 years old, my driver’s license was taken away by doctors. My doctors did not believe that it was safe for me to be driving with the neurological and dysautonomia issues I have. Losing the ability to drive a car was the reason I chose to move to Philadelphia. There is nowhere else where I would enjoy the quality of life and independence I have, thanks to my power wheelchair and public transportation.
Meeting with Friends Around the City
Many many non-disabled people with driver’s licenses choose not to have cars in Philadelphia because it’s a disadvantage trying to find parking. When meeting up in the city with my friends who own cars, I’m almost always there first in my power chair. I reserve the table while they circle the block, looking for a parking space.
Taking the Bus in My Power Chair
I remember a conversation I had with my friend, who uses a manual wheelchair, about how buses are easier to navigate for power chair users. The ramps, which are so easy for me, are difficult for others in manual wheelchairs. Also, the narrow width of the turning area when people get onto the bus, causes issues. I never have any difficulty because my Stretto Power Chair turns on a dime and is ultra narrow.
Traveling by SEPTA Train with My Power Chair
So many people consider power wheelchair users as more disabled than manual wheelchair users because we physically can’t push our wheels. Actually, we have many abilities and mobility privileges because our devices are so advanced and helpful. In contrast, the train that is easy for manual wheelchair users in terms of space and access, is difficult for me. The casters on my power chair can drop down into the gap between the train and platform. So, I have to wait for a SEPTA employee to get their portable ramp. It’s not the worst thing, but it can take a while, and sometimes the employees are rude.
I love getting out as much as possible. I can go out independently to explore the city, with my power chair and Medscope button. Because fall is here now, the outdoor adventures are happening as much as possible so I can enjoy them before it gets too cold. I hate cold weather. When it’s too cold for me to wait out at the bus stop, we have accessible transportation services like Uber WAV that can help us get around.
Anomie Fatale: Anomie is a musician who performs at shows and open mic nights in Philadelphia. She is the current titleholder for Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania USA 2022 and is passionate about helping others. Click here to learn more about Anomie.
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