Fidel's Story

What happens when transportation is designed for everyone?

By Fidel Valenzuela as told to Marta Lindsey

If you get off BART at the Ashby station, it couldn’t be easier for a wheelchair user to get to the Ed Roberts Campus, which is essentially a service hub for the entire Bay Area for people with disabilities. It connects seamlessly with a ramp and an elevator to right into the Campus. Plus, if you walk around the area near Ashby BART station, there are wide, smooth sidewalks and curb cut outs. If you cross Adeline Street to get to campus, you feel safe because you cross between flashers and bollards. 

The Ashby BART station is how things should be. Our public transportation stations and the neighborhoods near them should be designed for everyone. And our public transportation should connect with not just housing and retail, but resources and services, too.

That’s because many people who use wheelchairs don’t have the option of driving.  So when you depend on public transportation and it’s not what it should be, you can easily spend your whole day getting just one thing done. Stopping at the bank, grocery shopping, meeting a friend for coffee… these basic activities become huge challenges.

For the people who come to Ed Roberts Campus, the connectivity and accessibility of the Ashby station means independence and opportunity. It means more empowered people.  It means life

TransForm’s name isn’t on a plaque anywhere in Ashby station.  But I know TransForm’s advocacy work is why we have two regional funding programs that together put almost $3.5 million in transportation dollars toward making the Ashby BART station and Adeline Street what they are today.  TransForm’s work is behind so many of the ways the Bay Area and California are getting better for people with disabilities being able to get where they need to go.  But they’re also getting better for all people.