Friday, 10 March 2017

Left On The Pavement | Using The Bus As A Wheelchair User

Today marks the start of Disabled Access Day, a series of events held over 3 days that is all about celebrating good disabled access. I'm always up for praising companies, shops etc when they get things right but what is also important is to call out when the accessibility is bad/shocking. I really wanted to be able to do a positive post about the day(s) but something that happened yesterday has changed what I want to write about.

Yesterday I decided to go into town for a little bit, I hadn't left the house for anything other than hospital appointments and charity work in quite a while and I was starting to feel claustrophobic, staring at the same four walls all day. Such a trip is painful and exhausting for me and by the time I'm heading home I'm usually close to crying because of the pain but I need a life so I put myself through it. So, the least I expect when I go out is to be able to get from A to B with not much fuss, as that's how able bodied people travel, hopping on a bus with often little to no problems so surely that should be my experience too? For those who don't know, I'm a powerchair user, not a monster truck sized powerchair either so I can easily fit on the bus in the wheelchair space with room to spare.


Despite the many problems I've experienced when getting the bus, ranging from broken ramps to parents refusing to fold their buggies, I rely on this form of transport so I put myself through the anxiety again and again because I simply have no choice. I cannot afford to learn to drive, I cannot afford a wheelchair accessible vehicle for a carer to drive and most taxis aren't suitable for me. Whenever I get the bus I expect problems now, perhaps a buggy in the wheelchair space with a stubborn parent or just a rude driver who claims my powerchair can't fit on the bus. However, what I don't expect is for a bus driver to drive straight past me despite seeing me frantically waving my arms, desperate for him to stop. I've heard about it happening many times before but the bus company I use are generally pretty good so I really didn't expect for that to happen to me yesterday lunchtime.

Here's what happened. I could see the bus driving up so with plenty of time for the driver to stop I put my arm out, but he wasn't slowing down. So, I started waving about a little, probably looking a little strange, thinking perhaps he couldn't see me. It was clear he had seen me though when he made eye contact with me as he drove straight past. It was then that I could see that there was a buggy in the wheelchair space and I knew at that moment that I had been left on the pavement because of that. This is all despite the recent Supreme Court Ruling stating that bus drivers must require people to move from the wheelchair space, but this driver didn't even give the person a chance to move. Perhaps if asked they would have happily obliged and moved for me, we probably could have shared the space. The driver denied them that choice though and denied me my right to use the bus like everyone else does. Honestly, I'm disgusted and still incredibly angry. What makes it worse is when I complained East Yorkshire Motor Services they apologised for the driver 'missing me', insinuating that perhaps he hadn't seen me despite me saying that he looked me right in the eye, it's clear that he purposely drove past me.

I'm sick of feeling like a second class citizen simply because I get around differently to some people. I'm sick of being ignored, forgotten and simply not cared about. It put a taint on my day and I struggled to enjoy my precious time out of the house because of how angry and upset I was, upset that a person could have such little regard and respect for another human being.

I've complained but I know nothing will come of it. I just need people to know what is going on, how bad things are still for wheelchair users and disabled people in general. If you think things are getting a lot better than you are so very wrong and I suggest that you educate yourself on the issues that myself and others face on a daily basis. Getting the bus makes me anxious enough as it is but now I have one more worry going around in my head, will the driver even care enough to stop for me?
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6 comments

  1. Wow, thank you for sharing this - I am so shocked by your experience, and even more shocked to hear this isn't something out of the ordinary. I've often thought travelling and cities as a whole (for example London) aren't accessible at all, and I'm not surprised this experience upset you. Glad to hear you complained, and hope this doesn't happen again while travelling :-(

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    1. Thanks for reading! I really hope it doesn't happen again but I fear that it probably will!

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  2. I'm so sorry that you had go to through this. I hope that someone at the bus company eventually gives you a proper response and an apology!

    alicered.co.uk

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    1. I hope so too! I've gone to the local paper who are running the story this week and the company have come back saying they are going to look at the CCTV footage and then get back to me, as though I've made this up or something! x

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  3. I understand how distressing this must have been for you and it was such a humiliating experience but are you 100 percent sure the driver saw you before you start to humiliate him as you insinuated he did to you?.

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    1. I put out my arm with plenty of time for the bus to stop, I was right at the edge of the bus stop, nothing blocking me from being seen and he looked at me several times. There is no doubt in my mind that he saw me and if I had any doubt I wouldn't have tweeted about, blogged about it and taken it to the paper. This is a real issue that disabled people are facing daily and it's about time it was brought to light.

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