This week on Mobility Monday I’d like to share a video with you made by Mik Scarlet discussing the new pop-up cycle lanes being implemented in London.
As Mik explains, the new cycle lanes have been rushed through with very little consultation with disability representatives or thoughts put to accessibility. In many places where these have been introduced, it’s now impossible for wheelchair users and those with mobility issues to hail a cab and have it come to the side of the road for safe loading on to or off of the vehicle.
Longer trips to taxi ranks are fast becoming the only safe option, which are often tiring and time consuming to get to for people with disabilities. The alternatives are pick-ups/drop offs far away from where you need, or in the middle of a road, blocking traffic and endangering both the drivers and passengers. As a wheelchair user living in South East London, having to travel centrally for many hospital appointments, I can see how difficult this can make life for other people with mobility issues, many of whom rely on wheelchair accessible black cabs to get around the city and to the big hospitals where a lot of our complex care can be based. We all know of my experiences with public transport and why many of us wheelchair users prefer not to, or simply cannot, use buses or trains as an alternative to driving and taxis.
I am in no way opposed to cycle lanes in London to help make the city greener and healthier to live, as Mik’s video states, many wheelchair users want to be a part of the cycling movement themselves. This is not an ‘us v’s them’ situation. However, there needs to be more discussion and support on how to make those lanes and our city accessible and safe for everyone who needs to use them.
Similarly in my local area, a few Covid-19 restrictions on roads and pavements have been introduced to try and increase social distancing. Unfortunately some have been implemented in a way that only able-bodied people can access these areas. Again, I’m not opposed to the council trying to take responsibility to increase our safety as a borough but it has been done without proper consultation or thought to those with different needs. We may not be the majority but we do exist.
I am aware that sometimes people with an issue to bring to the forefront can sound like a broken record but I really feel it’s important to try and talk about these issues, to raise awareness and remind people that disabled people exist and need to be considered when making access decisions. I think I feel so strongly about this as I’ve not always been a wheelchair user. When I wasn’t disabled, I was pretty oblivious to the plight of being a wheelchair user or someone with limited mobility. It didn’t affect me so I didn’t think about it. It wasn’t malicious, it just wasn’t something I held in my head or thoughts when out and about, living my able-bodied life. I think many people are like this. It’s one of the many things I appreciated and respected the team at Lith-Tech for. When purchasing my Smart-Chair 1XL they talked to me about my needs. They knew their wheelchairs and their capabilities inside and out. They knew of the hardships a wheelchair user can face within travel and access. It wasn’t a surprise to them. It’s what their business is based around and their passion and care really shows.
If my posts can make just one person remember a wheelchair user when making an access decision themselves, then I’ll be happy.
If my posts can make someone think of how someone may feel in a difficult access situation, then I’ll be happy.
If my posts can get somebody passionate about championing for disabled equality and consultation, then I’ll be happy.
Have a great week ahead, everyone.