Editor’s note: Self-advocate Joy Rindels-Hayden has had a long journey since her 2017 accident, which happened when she was exiting a bus in Minneapolis. She has worked to bring forward a bill, S.F. 2910, requiring transit operators to have additional training to assist passengers. Lead author on the bill is Sen. Karin Housley (R-Stillwater).
The bill calls for safe accessibility training. The Metropolitan Council, which operates Metro Transit, would have to ensure that vehicle operators who provide bus service receive training on assisting persons with disabilities and mobility limitations to enter and leave the vehicle. The training must cover assistance in circumstances where regular access to or from the vehicle is unsafe due to snow, ice or other obstructions.
If passed it would apply to vehicle operators employed by the Metropolitan Council or by a replacement service provider. The council would have to consult with the Transportation Accessibility Advisory Committee on the training.
Rindels Hayden testified for the first time in January, before the Senate Transportation Finance Committee. This is from her testimony:
My name is joy Rindels-Hayden and I live in south Minneapolis.
My accident happened at 3:40 p.m. January 9, 2017. I was coming home on the bus from physical therapy. My bus stopped at 38th and Chicago, and off the bus to make the transfer. Because of the timing of the buses, I didn’t have a lot of time to make a transfer.
The bus stop is near a convenience store. The store’s parking lot and gas pump area were cleared of snow. But much of the snow was piled on the sidewalk.
I use a walker. The bus driver used a hydraulic ramp so that I could get off of the bus. The ground was covered with snow. The sidewalk wasn’t cleared properly and the ramp wasn’t on the sidewalk. I stepped out lifting my walker’s front wheels. The back wheels got caught. I pulled and pulled. Suddenly the wheel came free over the top, and I fell backwards and landed on Chicago Avenue.
The injury caused me to lose consciousness. I sustained a brain bleed and had an ischemic stroke.
The stroke affected my speech. I was very fortunate that my speech and my cognitive abilities came back. I spent 17 days in the hospital and had to undergo rehabilitation. They wanted me to stay in the hospital for another week, but I didn’t have the money for that.
In response to ads promoting accident prevention and safety at 38th Street Station, I called Metro Transit. The person I spoke with understood how the accident happened. I offered to use my teaching skills to write a curriculum and work with committees to educate the drivers, such as in cases for walker users.
There are similar situations moving forward because of the angles of the bus ramps. This incident did not have to happen.
I have partnered with the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance to include training for bus drivers to increase passenger safety, especially in inclement weather. That is what this bill does and I hope you will support SF 2910.
The accident had a deep impact on my life – physically, emotionally and financially. I am here because the accident was preventable and I want to do everything I can to keep it from happening to anybody else.