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A car with Lyft and Uber window stickers moves through traffic in Manhattan. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Even as ridesharing companies expand their offerings and look towards AV deployment, many people with disabilities are still unable to access today's shared vehicles.

Why it matters: Ridesharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, formed their business models and then — belatedly, allege critics — began addressing accessibility challenges, a strategy that could hinder disability access to AVs in the future.

The big picture: Ridesharing companies have promoted the idea that they are a transportation boon to people with disabilities, just as AV companies are doing today. But ridesharing has had mixed results for people with disabilities.

  • For many who cannot get a driver's license because of epilepsy, for example, ridesharing has increased mobility.  
  • Drivers sometimes do not allow service animals into the car, though, which can result in drivers refusing service to people who are blind.
  • Wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) are unavailable via ridesharing in most markets, or available in few numbers, which can result in lengthy wait times.

What's happening: Ridesharing companies have adopted policies that punish drivers for discriminating against people with disabilities. However, the companies still argue that they merely connect people seeking rides to people that operate vehicles, taking little responsibility for the quality of service that drivers provide.

Between the lines: How Uber and Lyft prioritize and address accessibility now will have lasting impacts as they expand their transportation offerings, including introducing AVs.

What we're watching: Uber’s recent launch of limited WAV service in certain markets is a step forward, but still does not offer equal access for all. Ridesharing companies need to expand access to new mobility options as they develop and deploy them — otherwise, access to new transportation tech will remain unequal.

Henry Claypool is a policy expert affiliated with UCSF and AAPD, and a former director of the U.S. Health and Human Services Office on Disability.

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  2. Politics: New York to lift mask mandate for vaccinated people — CDC director says politics didn't play a role in abrupt mask policy shift.
  3. Vaccines: Sanofi, GSK COVID vaccine shows strong immune response in phase 2 trials — Vaccine-hesitant Americans cite inaccurate side effects — 600,000 kids between 12 and 15 have received Pfizer dose since FDA authorization.
  4. Business: How retailers are responding to the latest CDC guidance — Delta to require all new employees be vaccinated — Target, CVS and other stores ease mask requirements after CDC guidance.
  5. World: World's largest vaccine maker expects to resume exports by end of 2021 — Biden administration to send 20 million U.S.-authorized vaccine doses abroad.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Prosecutor: Fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. was "justified"

Khalil Ferebee (C), the son of Andrew Brown Jr., and attorneys Bakari Sellers (L) and Harry Daniel (R) at a May 11 news conference in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

A North Carolina prosecutor said Tuesday that the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man fatally shot by sheriff's deputies last month, was "tragic" but "justified," due to the immediate threat officers believed Brown posed.

Why it matters: The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown's death. Police in Elizabeth City shot him five times, including in the back of his head, according to an independent autopsy report released by family attorneys last month.

McCarthy comes out against bipartisan deal on Jan. 6 commission

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will oppose a bipartisan deal announced last week that would form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, his office announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: McCarthy's opposition to the deal, which was negotiated by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, underscores the internal divisions that continue to plague the GOP in the wake of Jan. 6.