Most parents have struggled while carrying a baby’s buggy on underground stairs – and on Monday that struggle ended in tragedy, when a mother apparently stumbled and fell to her death in New York.
It was reported that Malaysia Goodson, 22, probably died from a medical condition, not the fall itself, which her one-year-old daughter, Rhylee, survived.
Nonetheless, Ms Goodson’s death in a Manhattan station that has no lift has fired activists who have been campaigning for more accessibility for people in wheelchairs and with pushchairs.
“Everybody who has been a parent or a caregiver knows that this is a problem,” Christine Serdjenian Yearwood, the founder of Up-Stand, an organisation that has pushed to make transit more accessible for parents, told The New York Times.
Ms Goodson’s death provoked outcry from parents all too familiar with the perils of navigating crowded subway stairs with toddlers in pushchairs, and among people who use wheelchairs in a system that, according to one survey, has lifts that break down more than 50 times each year.
The problem is accessibility. Only around a quarter of New York’s 472 subway stations have lifts; in London, 77 underground stations are step-free (28 per cent), and Transport for London has said that a £200m investment two years ago will allow the network to bring that number to 100; by 2024, according to plans, 38 per cent of the Tube network will be step-free.
These are good goals. But the $40bn it would take to make a third of NYC’s subway stations accessible with lifts has yet to be funded, according to The New York Times. In London, people on wheels will still face long journeys between accessible stations even assuming that the current five-year-plan goes off without a hitch. Transport for London publishes this guide to push-chair-friendly Tube and overland stations – showing how spread out stops are.
But in the meantime, why aren’t people helping? What are your experiences on the Tube? Do people offer to lend a hand when you’re carrying a child in a buggy up or down stairs? Let us know in the comments below.