Days after a young woman died while descending subway stairs with her daughter and a stroller, disability, transit, and family advocates gathered in Midtown Manhattan on Wednesday to demand a more accessible subway system.

Representatives from the CIDNY, Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled [BCID], Riders Alliance, UP-STAND, and other groups gathered at the 7th Avenue B/D/E station at West 53rd Street, where 22-year-old Malaysia Goodson died Monday while going down a set of stairs. Goodson’s one-year-old daughter, Rhylee, was unhurt.

Like about 75% of the MTA’s 472 subway stations, the 7th Avenue B/D/E station does not have an elevator.

“There was no need for her to die in that way,” said Susan Dooha, executive director of the Center for the Independence of the Disabled New York. “If we had elevators, mothers with children in strollers would not have to be climbing up and down the stairs, risking their own lives and the lives of their children.”

(On Wednesday afternoon, the NYC Medical Examiner's office issued a preliminary statement saying, "While the cause of death is pending in this case, we can state that there is no significant trauma, and this fatality appears to be related to a pre-existing medical condition.")

Dooha and Joe Rappaport, executive director of BCID, called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to settle a 2017 lawsuit brought by Disability Rights Advocates, which argued that the city’s largely inaccessible subway system violated New York City human rights law. Much like the settlement for a similar 1979 lawsuit, in which then Governor Mario Cuomo ordered that 100 subway stations be updated for accessibility, this settlement would compel the MTA to make its remaining subway stations more accessible, Rappaport said.

“While the MTA says it wants to make stations accessible, until we have a legally binding agreement, we don’t know if we’ll actually get an accessible system,” he added.

Attendees with disabilities said they’re intimately familiar with the perils of an inaccessible subway system.

“I could have been a Malaysia Goodson,” said Dustin Jones, a disability rights advocate. Jones, who uses a wheelchair, said he had been helped into and out of inaccessible subway stations by good Samaritans and by members of the FDNY and NYPD. Now, he said, he’ll be worrying about their safety, too.

“I’ve got to think, ‘Watch the stairs’,” he said.

Robert Acevedo, who also uses a wheelchair, said he took the bus to the rally rather than trying to fold up his wheelchair and inch down the stairs, clinging to the banister and hoping he wouldn’t fall.

“I had to take the bus to get to the subway” here, he said.

People with disabilities aren’t the only ones affected by inaccessible subway stations, attendees said.

“What happened here shows that elevators at subway stations are for everyone, not just those who use wheelchairs,” said Monica Bartley, who works at the CIDNY.

Being cut off from the subway system can affect more than just someone’s ability to get from point A to point B, she added.

“People with disabilities, we need to be able to travel around the city like everyone else,” said Bartley. “If you’re not able to travel, then you’re so isolated, and that impacts your whole being.”

Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke agreed. “When you have a baby, you do feel really isolated, and the city starts to feel a lot less navigable,” Bloomgarden-Smoke, a journalist and mother to a six-month-old boy, said by phone. “You just can’t get around the way that you were able to.”

Accessibility is one of the four pillars of New York City Transit president Andy Byford’s Fast Forward plan to modernize the aging subway system. The plan promises more than 50 new accessible subway stations within five years, meaning that a subway rider will never be more than two stops away from an accessible station, according to the plan’s website.

In a statement, MTA President Patrick Foye described subway accessibility as “a critical commitment of the upcoming capital plan and a milestone that will be largely achieved once dedicated funding—through congestion pricing and funding from city and state partners - can be secured.”

“We 100 percent believe increased accessibility must be a priority, which is why the Governor has proposed a congestion pricing plan to provide billions of dollars in necessary capital funding to the MTA,” a spokesman for Gov. Cuomo said when asked for comment.

Also on Wednesday, MTA executives traveled to Albany to meet with the State Senate’s transportation committee for its first budget hearing of the year. At the hearing, MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim called Goodson’s death “tragic” and said that improving the accessibility of the subway is “top priority,” NBC New York reported.

In the meantime, commuters in need of elevator assistance will keep warily navigating the stairs at inaccessible subway stations.

“You always feel like you could slip or somehow lose grasp of the stroller,” Bloomgarden-Smoke said. “It’s every parent’s nightmare.”

Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilensky is a visual and interactive journalist based in New York.