Wheeliz Provides Carshare Options for People With Disabilities

While Uber is working on bringing us curated Caribbean pork shoulder sandwiches in under 10 minutes, another startup is trying to cover ground that, so far, Uber and its ilk have left relatively undisrutped.

Specifically: a carshare for people with disabilities.

Uber and Lyft have both received numerous complaints that their services are not accessible to people with disabilities, and that the companies violate the Americans With Disabilities Act, which — well, you can guess Uber’s response.

In three ADA-related cases over the past eight months, in California, Texas, and Arizona, Uber has been slammed with lawsuits that allege the company discriminates against blind and wheelchair-using passengers. The suits demand Uber abide by the ADA, but Uber claims that because it’s a technology company, not a transportation service, it doesn’t fall under the ADA’s jurisdiction.

That’s from The Daily Beast, which notes that many Uber customers are looking for the same accommodations they would expect to receive from taxis: the ability to put a wheelchair in the trunk of a car, for example, or the ability to travel with a service animal.

But Uber is the type of company that allows drivers to refuse to pick up a passenger if they don’t walk out to the curb fast enough. Dealing with wheelchairs and service animals? That’s not how optimization works.

Which brings us to Wheeliz, a “peer to peer adapted car rental.” As Mashable explains:

When visiting Florida earlier this year, Parisian Charlotte de Vilmorin — who has been in a wheelchair her entire life — was desperately searching for a car adapted for people with disabilities.

She finally found one, but soon discovered how expensive it was to rent — for 10 days, it cost her approximately $1,000.

It’s very difficult to get around when you are in a wheelchair, because public transportation is not accessible,” de Vilmorin tells Mashable. “You can’t just grab a cab or rent a regular car.”

The constant lack of options inspired her to take matters into her own hands. She cofounded Wheeliz, a French car-sharing service that easily connects people with disabilities to owners of adapted cars.

Wheeliz provides insurance–”Every rental is insured by MAIF. It replaces the owners insurance for the duration of the rental and covers accidents.” — and claims its car rentals are up to 50 percent cheaper than the other options. It’ll refund you the difference, too, if you find a better offer with another rental service.

Everything about Wheeliz sounds delightful. Sadly, it’s only in France for now — but de Vilmorin hopes to take Wheeliz internationally in the future.

In the meanwhile, there’s always uberASSIST. Maybe.

uberASSIST is designed for additional assistance for members of the senior and disability communities. Drivers are specifically trained to assist riders into the vehicles and can accommodate folding wheelchairs, walkers, and scooters. Note: uberASSIST vehicles do not have accessible ramps.

(UberWAV cars do have ramps, but they aren’t accessible everywhere.)

So yeah, I’m rooting for Wheeliz, and more sharing economy startups that are actually about sharing.

Photo credit: Jacobo Tarrío

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