Disability rights group launches driving challenge to underscore driving disparities in Washington

Disability Rights Washington launched a “Week Without Driving” challenge to underscore driving disparities present in the state.

The challenge - what is it like to get around without driving yourself? If you live in an area with busses or light rail, you’ve got options.

But if you live somewhere without mass transit - you might have to ask a loved one or friend for help.

“For many folks it’s a privilege to be able to afford living near a frequent bus route and a place with sidewalks,” said Anna Zivartz with Disability Rights Washington.

Jo Ann Maxwell knows that all too well. Recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she’s new to car-less living.

The Snohomish County senior relies on the Transportation Assistance Program to get around.

“If it were not for TAP transportation, I would be totally isolated,” Maxwell said.

Living in rural Bothell, access to transit is limited. While she is grateful for this service, it’s frustrating she can’t run errands at a moment’s notice.

“I have to call a week in advance to get on the schedule,” Maxwell said.

According to Disability Rights Washington, roughly a quarter of people in Washington - including those with disabilities, young folks, seniors, those who can’t afford gas or a car - can’t drive.

This lack of access dictates where they can live and what they’re able to do.

“People who have a bit more choice and being able to hop in a car, you are able to living further out with greater ease,” Zivartz said.

Understanding that disparity is the impetus behind “The Week Without Driving,” the 7-day pledge that you won’t get behind the wheel.

Several local representatives, including state Rep. Emily Wicks and city councilmembers from Bothell, Redmond and Edmonds, are participating in the challenge.