Transportation Can Present Obstacles for the Disabled
Transportation is difficult for the disabled in all countries. Disabled people should be given more of a right to the roads than they are.
Written by ADAM LUKE Cambridge News.co.uk
Picture by Warren Gunn
The 56-year-old, who was on his way to photograph Cambridge University’s colleges, was brought to a halt on the three-lane carriageway near Bar Hill, where he lives.
Ian, who has multiple sclerosis, told the News he often travels along the road in his scooter to get to the city, and although his route and method of transport were viewed as dangerous by officers, he is not alone in being faced with a dilemma on how, as a disabled person, to get into Cambridge from its surrounding villages.
Lil Speed, of Kendal Way, Chesterton, is a campaigner for disabled rights. Her son Michael, 52, has learning difficulties and lives in Milton.
Lil, 73, said: “I have every sympathy for the man with his mobility scooter. Part of the problem is that disabled people should be given more of a right to the roads than they are.
“My son is lucky as he is not as restricted as many in his movements, but I know that people living outside the city centre can end up feeling very isolated.
“The buses are no good because they don’t run regularly enough and there seems to be more and more roads being closed in the city nowadays. I just don’t think Cambridge is an accessible city anymore.”
Ema Hackett lives at the very edge of Cambridge in Cogeshall Close, Fen Ditton. She previously lived in Ely for more than 20 years.
The 24-year-old suffers from Ehlers–Danlos syndrome type 3, which causes her joints to move more than most people’s, leaving her susceptible to dislocation. She also has fibromyalgia – an extreme sensitivity of nerves leading to widespread and constant pain.
She said: “I used to have a mobility scooter before I got my electric wheelchair and I understand this man’s actions.
“They can be quite large so he is unlikely to be able to get it on the bus or in a taxi. If he leaves it behind and manages to get into Cambridge, then what is he supposed to do to get around once there?
“When I lived in Ely I just couldn’t get to Cambridge because it was so difficult.”
Now Ema is able to get into the city twice a week, but does find it a problem getting home again on her chosen bus.
She said: “I cannot get on if the wheelchair space is occupied by a buggy. I have had buses drive straight past me or drivers just shrug their shoulders at me as they can’t do anything.
“And if I go by car with my blue badge I can struggle to find a spot with enough room around it for my needs.”
She added: “Overall, Cambridge is better than a lot of cities when it comes to access, but it could be improved with only a small amount of money.
“It just depends on people’s attitudes and willingness to listen.”
Cllr Gerri Bird is a Cambridge city councillor for East Chesterton and a disability campaigner. She said the situation is not all doom and gloom.
She said: “I was quite angry to see what this man had been doing driving on the A14, as he is giving a bad name to other scooter users.
“Transport in Cambridge is getting better for disabled people – it is not perfect but there are schemes out there that can help, such as taxi allowances, dial-a-ride and the spaces in our buses for disabled people.
“His actions are not helpful. If he couldn’t plan his transport ahead then he should at least have taken the back roads to get into Cambridge.”
Scooters, wheel chairs, handicap parking are all benefits that the disabled need to be more mobile.
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