On 9 April, my Dad (95) in a wheelchair and myself on scooter, were using the underground from St Pancras to Victoria during the morning rush hour. How shocked we were by atrocious accessibility on the underground and the dangerous pavements in our capital city. We only succeeded by allowing plenty of extra time and given the appalling lack of accessible options, we needed every minute of it.
Not all stations or even all entrances are step-free, while those that are only seem to be in certain places on the platform. Disabled access signs are tiny and illegible unless you’re right on top of them; lifts are unseen around corners or impossible to find cubby holes. Nearly, all 20 or so of those Dad and I had to use – when we could find them – were poor in terms of position, signage and general accessibility.
The gap between train and platform is larger than TFL’s measurement especially at St Pancras/Euston. 120,000 people like myself who had Polio, live with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) and this situation is far from ideal to say the least. I had to lift my scooter over the gap instead of driving straight on, hurt my only one good arm in the process. The distance to travel is far further than if you are able to use an escalator.
We weren’t surprised to see only one other wheelchair user during our day and no scooters at all. Who would make such a trip on the underground if they could avoid it? The state of London pavements and lack of dropped kerbs was quite shocking. Surely London, our nation’s premier city and a world class tourist destination, can and must do much better? Anyone who needs The British Polio Fellowship’s help can visit www.britishpolio.org.uk or call 0800 043 1935.
Northants Branch, The British Polio Fellowship