NADINA LASPINA IS looking up from under her wide-brimmed hat at the heavy grey rain clouds overhead, watching the blazing July sun play peekaboo behind them, and worrying about whether she?s dressed appropriately for the weather. It?s too hot and humid for a raincoat when the sun is out, but when the clouds break open, as they have intermittently throughout the day, the rain pours down by the bucketful.
What to wear? It?s a question that most New Yorkers?who spend so much of their daily commutes outdoors?ask themselves on a day like today. But for LaSpina, it?s especially important to get it right.
Unlike most New Yorkers, LaSpina can?t just duck into the subway, hail a cab, or hide under scaffolding until an Uber arrives. LaSpina had polio as a child and has used a wheelchair for most of her adult life. She can?t transfer herself into a regular cab, so she requires a taxi with a ramp. Those are pretty scarce, though, especially since she has to share them with the millions of other New Yorkers who don?t use wheelchairs.
So if the clouds part and let loose another one of those furious summer storms, the only way LaSpina can get back home is the same way she got here in the first place: ?I just rolled.?
?Here,? as it so happens, is Uber?s New York City headquarters, which is located all the way on Manhattan?s west side, between 11th and 12th Avenues. It might as well be Siberia for the average Manhattanite. No subways run this far west, and it?s tough to find any taxi, let alone one that?s wheelchair accessible. Which makes it a fitting?if somewhat ironic?place for LaSpina and about a dozen other wheelchair users from the advocacy group Disabled in Action to gather in protest of what they say are discriminatory practices by the car-hailing giant.
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