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Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

Oblivious or rude? Disabled passengers on MARTA often get overlooked

  • This blog post was contributed by AJC staff writer Rhonda Cook

As a regular MARTA commuter, I certainly don’t expect anyone to give up a seat so I can sit because of my gender. Nor do I think my age means I'm entitled to special treatment.

But I’m have been on crutches for a few weeks because of knee surgery. And that’s a completely different situation.

I need to sit because, frankly, I’m unsteady. I could fall and reinjure my knee or hurt someone else if I crashed into them.

During my encumbered commutes from downtown to the Dunwoody station, I encountered several helpful, considerate people.

They would hold open doors. Many asked if I needed help. Some offered well-intentioned advice that I should be home with an ice pack on my elevated knee.

But then there were the others – the oblivious and the insensitive.

The oblivious ones were people coming from the airport who put their luggage on the seats even as other folks were standing. If I asked, a seat immediately came open, but only if I asked.

And then there were able-bodied people who raced me for seats and won.

During one of my morning commutes I stepped onto a northbound train at Five Points just as a woman stepped through the facing door. Many passengers inside were standing. But a single seat remained open.

She looked at the seat. She looked at me. Then the woman darted for the seat and immediately turned her attention to her cell phone.

“Well I’ll be damned," I said, loud enough for all the hear. With that, another woman offered her seat.

Later that day, on my return trip, it happened again. A man waived for me to a single seat by the opposite door. But before I could get to it, another man pushed in front of me.

I’m standing in front of him, leaning on crutches, when he laughs and says “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you."

But he didn’t get up.

A woman sitting nearby gave me her seat.

And for the entire trip south to the Five Points Station, the man took a nap. Or maybe he just pretended to nap.


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