UPDATE @ 1:18 p.m. (Dec. 15)
John Dixon of Trotwood, who has cerebral palsy, was at a Tuesday press conference concerning a lawsuit filed against the Dayton Mall and some anchor tenants in an effort to get bus stops closer to the mall entrance.
“The policy makes the bus stops be farther away than they actually need to be,” Dixon said. “We need to have equal access to be pulled up right to the front of the mall, as close as possible.”
Dixon said the bus stop for the mall is at the corner of a parking lot. He said it’s dangerous for people with disabilities to have to maneuver through the parking lot.
“Upon traveling you might even wear yourself out so you can’t even enjoy the full mall experience by the time you get to the mall,” Dixon said. “It’s very strenuous; it’s difficult,” he said. adding he walks with crutches.
“We want to enjoy every part of the community that we can enjoy especially around the holiday season, people want to shop, they want to do things,” Dixon said. “Hopefully we’re opening up the door for everybody to enjoy the mall.”
Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. and Disability Rights Ohio Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the Dayton Mall and several anchor stores, Macy’s, Sears and Elder Beerman, seeking a policy change to enable people with disabilities who ride public transportation to “have effective and equal access to the Dayton Mall,” according to a release.
The complaint alleges the present policy at the mall requires RTA to keep the bus stop more than 600 feet from the mall entrance. This effort started in April 2015.
“We’re here to fulfill our mission which is to make sure the community as a whole is accessible to people with disabilities,” said Greg Kramer, of Kettering, who uses a wheelchair.
Legal counsel for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. and Disability Rights Ohio will hold a press conference on Tuesday about legal action related to people with disabilities using public transit to access to Dayton Mall.
The location of the bus stop at the mall has been a source of contention between advocacy groups who say the stop is too far away and the mall owner who will not allow the stop to be moved to the entrance.
“The mall requires the (Greater Dayton) RTA to have its bus stop at the furthest reaches of the back parking lot which then requires a person with a disability, who has ridden the bus to the mall, to hike 600 feet through the mall parking lot which is pretty dangerous,” said Ellis Jacobs, an attorney with ABLE. “In addition, the mall doesn’t allow all of the routes that go out there to actually stop at that bus stop, so it means a lot people have to make unnecessary transfers which is an additional burden on people with disabilities.”
Legal counsel for ABLE and DRO will make the announcement in front of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, located at 200 West Second Street in Dayton.
Last year, Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton held protests at Dayton Mall in an effort to get the mall owner to allow RTA buses to stop at mall entrances.
This news outlet previously reported the mall’s policy is to allow only RTA vans that are part of Project Mobility, a door-to-door service for the disabled, to have direct access to mall entrances. Those buses each hold up to only 11 people.
In a previous interview with this newspaper, Frank Ecklar, RTA’s director of planning, said that the mall allowed buses at the entrances until 2003. Mall operators then declined to allow the buses so close because they said there were too many of them and that they blocked fire lanes, Ecklar said.