My name is Félix. I am a 24 year old man who’s been living with cerebral palsy since birth. Which means that I have always coped with a reality that keeps me in a wheelchair and requires me to deal with reduced mobility. Still, I try to make a living in the movie business and working in bars.
Recently, I’ve been hearing more and more about these famous, or infamous“autonomous” cars. Many people have also reminded me that the arrival of these vehicles on the market signifies a considerable advancement for people with reduced mobility. And that’s true! What for many is a source of fear is for me the beginning of something fabulous. Gone are the days when driving my own car was an unattainable dream and finally! I will not have to spend thousands of dollars to make my vehicle fit my needs. We will all“drive” our cars in the same way. At long last, will I become just another regular citizen?
There is only one small hiccup. The autonomous car is not free. Like all other cars, it will cost tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars, to get your hands on one of these jewels. Unfortunately, this is the reality of the capitalist system in which we live. Far be it from me to downplay the importance of this innovation. I offer my congratulations and sincere thanks to all those who have worked so hard to make this object of the collective imagination possible. But I must remind you, being disabled at age 24 and trying to build a career in the arts is not exactly the most lucrative combination. So, let me ask you this question: what do we do for public transit?
Because honestly, as a city dweller and resident of Montreal, this is the issue that most interests me. At the moment, the metro is practically inaccessible to people with reduced mobility, and buses are not much better. Yes, there are ramps, but those at the back of the bus hardly ever work. Add our Canadian winter into the mix, and I have no choice but to become a hermit for the next few months. Unless I spend a small fortune on taxicabs to get around. Which is certainly not the cheapest option, and not great for the environment.
In a society that claims to be egalitarian and in a city that wants to be green, I think we should start here.
So there you have it. I thank all those who, by giving life to intelligent mobility via the autonomous car, have contributed to the fight against reduced mobility, but on behalf of all people in my situation I ask you: if you can, make sure that this advancement serves as a springboard for a multitude of other concrete actions that will lead us, I hope, to a truly egalitarian society where full mobility is accessible to all.
Accessible mobility interests you? Join us in Montréal, May 30-June 1, for Movin’On, the World summit on sustainable mobility.