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2017 ..Security HacKer
Uber launches 55 wheelchair-accessible vehicles in London that can be booked via the Uber app. Calling the new fleet of specially adapted vehicles ‘UberWAV’, the vehicles will be able to be called with a simple push of a button for the same rate as UberX fares.
The efforts towards improving vehicle accessibility for disabled travellers has been seen as a positive move by many, and accessibility charities were able to help in the development of the new Uber service. This will also help Brighton councillors with their decision to grant Uber a licence to operate in the town after questions were raised about options for wheelchair users.
Uber have announced that they are to invest more than £1m into the scheme over the next 18 months to help establish the project in London. The launch of UberWAV has been supported by Scope, Whizz-Kidz and Transport for All.
The new wheelchair-accessible vehicles will be fully equipped with a rear-entry ramp, winch and restraints, allowing wheelchair users to travel with one additional companion. 55 new vehicles are being introduced into their current fleet, but the company plan to increase this number to more than 100 vehicles over the next few months.
The UberWAV project is being launched with an expected waiting time of about 25 minutes in Zones 1-2 and around 40 minutes in Zones 3-4 during the first few weeks of the roll-out.
As the service expands the company hope to improve on the waiting times with the introduction of more adapted vehicles. The project is making the headlines as one of the biggest investments ever to happen in the area of accessible private hire in London.
Despite facing opposition from already wheelchair accessible black cabs, the new Uber service is seen as a step in the right direction from leading disability charities such as Whizz-Kids. The introduction of the new initiative has been welcomed because it will give disabled people living in London more choice when planning their travel around the city.
Currently, London is the only place in the UK where UberWAV has been implemented, and Uber hope this will be the catalyst for expansion into other cities around the country. It is thought that the company have been keen to launch wheelchair accessible vehicles for a while. A recent court case settlement in California after Uber drivers had been accused of turning away disabled passengers with guide dogs is thought to have also added to the pressure to roll out adapted vehicles across their fleets.
Black cabs in London are already able to carry disabled passengers due to their large doors, folding back seats and ample available space. This presents obvious competition to Uber, so launching adapted vehicles has given them more chance to be competitive in the private hire market.
The introduction of the adapted vehicles has come at a time that has seen the launch of a potential rival to Uber in London. Karhoo is an app that allows travellers to compare prices and book licensed taxis and private hire vehicles – this includes everything from black cabs to executive cars.
Karhoo will enable users to access more choice with over 30,000 vehicles in London. There will be no surge pricing during peak times, unlike Uber, and users can book multiple journeys and be given a final price at the time of booking. The company offer their customers better transparency with their bookings to make it easier than ever to travel in and around London.
This year the annual Mobility Roadshow will be coming live later this month from the Silverstone Circuit. The Mobility Roadshow and Get Going Live! event ambassador this year is writer and sports enthusiast Henrietta Freeman from Milton Keynes. Henrietta, age 21, is wheelchair dependent and lives with an undiagnosed progressive condition.
For this year’s event, happening May 26-28, Henrietta will be joined by an elite group of dedicated volunteers who promote the events nationwide and raise awareness for organiser Mobility Choice. The event is free to attend and enjoy for people of all ages living with any form of restricted mobility.
On top of being able to check out all the new mobility aids, inventions and devices being released, visitors will also get the chance to hit the road and test drive a selection of adapted and wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVS) around the extremely famous Silverstone race circuit! The Roadshow is a ‘hands-on’ event, with opportunities to test drive adapted and converted vehicles, either as a driver or passenger.
In an interview with local press, Henrietta said: “Over the years of attending The Mobility Roadshow, I have started to become really nosey and I love finding new gadgets and inventions which can benefit me and other people with similar requirements. As a non-driver, I find the passenger test drives particularly informative as I can compare a variety of vehicles with different adaptations and accessibility options.”
Being a lifelong Liverpool Football club supporter and sports fan, Henrietta is the perfect choice for the role of ambassador this year. Her mobility issues mean she is unable to drive herself, but she does enjoy the ride. She told the press: “I travel upfront in my side entry Volkswagen Transporter Wav which is superb. Having recently lost the ability to speak and movement below my neck it allows me to lead as independent a life as possible, with help from my Canine Partner, Zebo.”
Henrietta is also keen to promote the Mobility Roadshow accessible Sports Zone this year. Having played a lot of football herself previously, as well as competing in high level athletics competitions, she understands how important sport and exercise are. As well as being a great way to get fit – they can also be great fun too!
Henrietta added: “I would encourage anyone to take up sports and think the Mobility Roadshow sports zone provides ideal opportunities for people living with disabilities to have a go.”
The Mobility Roadshow is part of registered charity ‘Mobility Choice’ that was established in February 1988, and was set up to help advance the independent mobility of disabled and older people. The charity are responsible for organising and running the Mobility Roadshow amongst other activities that help promote their cause such as setting up and facilitating driving programmes and tuition for disabled and older drivers to encourage safe driving.
The Mobility Roadshow is an annual event that was originally set up by the Department for Transport in 1983. It started off as a biennially run event, but moved to an annal event in 1999, after the Mobility Choice charity assumed responsibility for the show in 1998.
For more details on the event visit www.mobilityroadshow.co.uk
Burglar Craig Layland, 31, from Stoke-on-Trent, sold the mobility aid on the online buying and selling site Gumtree the day after the owner had died on New Year’s Day. Layland was already the subject of a suspended jail sentence for burglary when he committed this crime.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court has now handed Layland with a community order. Prosecutor Barry White said that the mobility scooter owner was a lady that had left her scooter outside of her fire damaged home in Cheadle. Unfortunately, the lady passed on New Year’s Day.
The following day Layland, along with another man, were both seen in the victims garden looking through items including a fridge freezer, before making off with the scooter. Layland pleaded guilty to theft and breach of a suspended sentence.
It was also reported that the owner of the scooter had not lived in the house since a fire had tore through the property in June, leaving the property uninhabitable.
Layland, who has 17 convictions for 58 previous offences, was reportedly working in the salvage business when the theft happened. He and another man came across the mobility scooter after seeing the boarded up house with various white goods sitting outside. Layland’s defence mitigation said it was a mistake on their part to take the scooter, but he was under the impression that this was an abandoned property, so he helped himself.
Layland was traced from his van’s registration plate, and within 24 hours of the theft the scooter had been recovered. The defendant had sold the scooter via Gumtree, but in order to get it back he had actually ended up paying twice the amount that he had originally sold it for. Layland had realised it was a mistake to take the scooter, so had made the effort to return it to the family straight away.
Judge Paul Glenn went on to deliver Layland a sentence of a 12-month community order with 120 hours unpaid work for the theft as well as 40 hours unpaid work for breaching the suspended sentence he was already under at the time of the crime.
Judge Glenn told Layland: “You had absolutely no right to be going into people’s gardens and taking any property at all without permission. It was pretty obvious to you it worked and it was valuable. That is why you sold it the same day. It is a very sad state of affairs when people take this sort of property from someone who died the previous day. You weren’t to know that. But it was a fairly brazen theft. You took some steps to ensure it was recovered so there was no financial loss.”
Judge Glenn summed up his sentence with a stark warning for Layland: “Breach the order and you go to prison. You have had your last chance.”
Layland’s accomplice in the scooter theft was also sentenced to a 12-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work.
Jeanette Perry from Gosport was ordered to remove her mobility scooters from outside her home, despite being moved to her one-bedroom council home because it was suitable for her disability.
Her local council told Ms Perry that she cannot keep them outside her home, but instead offered her the use of a garage to store her scooters. Unfortunately, the garage is situated a mile away from her home, but Mrs Perry relies on her mobility scooters to get around.
In an interview with local press, Ms Perry said that it has made her confused and fearful of losing her home if she carries on keeping her scooters outside the property.
Since moving to her one-bedroom house earlier this year, the 58-year-old has been told by Gosport Borough Council staff that she must either move her scooters to the garage provided, or she will need to get rid of them entirely.
Following her complaint to the council, Ms Perry was told that she could keep her scooters outside her home by council chief executive Ian Lycett. However, she is still being told by different council staff members that she cannot.
In her press interview she said, ‘I am so confused and it is adding more stress to my life. First of all they said I can’t have them outside my house, then Mr Lycett sent a letter which said I could but I am still being told I am not allowed.
So worried is Ms Perry over the scooter parking issue that she has not been able to settle in properly to her new home for fear of the council re-locating her to another property. This latest house move has been her third in 18 months, something that she really does not want to go though again.
Ms Perry’s previous home was a two-bedroom property that was considered too big for her. After being shown her new one-bedroom home, the council had failed to mention having any issues with her mobility scooters. She told local press: ‘I had no idea it was going to be such a problem.
The garage that the council has offered Ms Perry is too far away for her to walk, and even then her disability would mean she wouldn’t be able to open the garage unless it was installed with an automatic door.
As well as the mobility scooter parking issues, Ms Perry has also been told that a storage box of litter-picking equipment must also be removed. Ms Perry volunteers her spare time to picking up litter in the area, but fears she will be forced to give this up if her equipment is taken away.
According to a letter sent from Gosport Council to Ms Perry, residents are not allowed to block communal areas but added the area outside her property is within its boundary and not considered communal land.
Ms Perry has been left confused over the parking issues, and is still waiting for the situation to be resolved.
With the introduction of new rules about carrying disabled passengers, Wirral taxi drivers have come out ahead of the game over their legal duty to carry wheelchair users.
According to new legislation, taxi drivers across the UK face a legal duty to carry wheelchair using passengers. In an announcement made by Transport Minister Andrew Jones, he said he aimed to implement anti-discrimination measures by the end of the year after bowing to pressure to end two decades of inaction after the law was first approved by Parliament.
Taxi drivers in the Wirral have shown renewed support for these measures, however they are already well ahead of the new laws as they have been enforcing these rules locally for the past 14 years!
The forward thinking Wirral Council had already adopted the rules, and since 2002, it has been a requirement that all hackney taxis licensed by Wirral Council have had to be wheelchair-accessible.
This rule has been part of the conditions of licence by the council for a number of years, and they stipulate that hackney carriage vehicles must have wheelchair ramps and securing straps within the vehicle at all times.
A council spokesman commented to local press, “Before the council grants a licence for a hackney carriage or private hire driver licence, the applicant has to obtain a recognised qualification.”
A course undertaken by taxi drivers leads towards this qualification, and includes a module that covers the legal aspect and practicalities of safely transporting wheelchair users. The course is for both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles operating in the Wirral area, and reinforces the rule that all drivers must carry guide dogs at no extra cost. This has been the case in the Wirral area since the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
Any complaints received by the council from the general public about these requirements not being adhered to properly have been quickly addressed, and the system has worked well for many years.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, guide dog and wheelchair users cannot be refused access to taxis and other private hire vehicles. However, only the guide dog sections were ever brought into force, leaving many wheelchair users unable to use many taxi and private hire services, despite the wheelchair provisions being included in the Equality Act of 2010.
According to the legislation, a taxi must carry a passenger in their chair at no extra charge and “take such steps as are necessary to ensure that the passenger is carried in safety and reasonable comfort”. Taxi drivers must also allow disabled passengers to ride in the passenger seat if they so wish, and transport the passengers wheelchair along with them at no extra charge, and give the passenger such mobility assistance as is reasonably required.
Disability campaigners welcomed the news, but were also concerned about the enforcement of the rules, especially with regard to guide dog owners. Many disabled people with guide dogs have complained about them still being refused by some drivers.
With the laws now being tightened up, it is hoped that taxi drivers will realise they have a clear duty to assist passengers with guide dogs and wheelchairs, and making it a criminal offence to charge them extra for carrying wheelchairs or guide dogs.
On Friday 11th March, Sussex police were alerted by a concerned motorist that there was an elderly man riding a mobility scooter down the carriageway of the A2011 near Crawley. The motorist flagged down a police car at around 12.45 pm to report the OAP and said that he was very concerned for his safety.
The 92-year-old pensioner found himself on the busy 70mph dual carriageway after taking a wrong turn. Passing motorists spotted the elderly gentleman, and it wasn’t long before a concerned driver alerted the police.
PC Katie Breeds responded to the call for help, and said the pensioner was found in a ‘very confused’ state. PC Breeds said: “He was very confused and really didn’t know where he was. We sat him in the back of our police car and waited for a colleague in a van to collect the mobility scooter. Then we delivered the scooter and driver back home to his warden-assisted accommodation in Crawley.”
PC Breeds also commented: “It’s a bust 70mph dual carriageway and we are grateful to the motorist for stopping. We caught up with the man heading away from the M23 in the A2011 Crawley Avenue.”
Safely back at home, the elderly gentleman is now recovering from his ordeal.
Rules for mobility scooters
In the UK, you do not need a driving licence to drive a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, but you may have to register it. There are two categories of mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs, and only certain types can be driven on the road.
There are Class 2 and Class 3 invalid carriages, and only Class 3 are allowed to drive on the road. Class 2 invalid carriages can only be ridden on pavements, except for where there isn’t a pavement, such as a country lane for example. Class 2 vehicles have a maximum speed of 4mph. Class 3 vehicles have a maximum speed of 4mph off the road, and 8mph on the road. Class 3 invalid carriages must be registered, but you do not need to register a class 2 invalid carriage.
To drive a mobility scooter you must be over the age of 14 years.
You risk being stopped by the police if your Class 3 invalid carriage doesn’t have the following features:
• a maximum unladen weight of 150kg
• a maximum width of 0.85 metres
• a device to limit its speed to 4mph
• a maximum speed of 8mph
• an efficient braking system
• front and rear lights and reflectors
• direction indicators able to operate as a hazard warning signal
• an audible horn
• a rear view mirror
• an amber flashing light if it’s used on a dual carriageway
Class 3 vehicles are not allowed to drive on bus lanes, motorways or cycle only lanes. It is also recommended that drivers avoid using dual carriageways that have a speed limit of over 50mph.
Ranked as world number one in wheelchair fencing, Piers Gilliver from Gloucestershire has now set his sights on scoring gold in the Paralympic games to be held in Rio de Janeiro this year.
Piers, aged 21, can be regularly found training for his sport through the Cotswold’s Fencing Club in Churchdown and at the Innsworth Community Hall. After taking up fencing as a hobby in 2010, his love of the sport was truly sparked off as a result of watching the fencing at the 2012 London Olympics, and he had since dreamed of going up against the top-ranked fencers he saw at the games.
In the four years since the London Olympics, Piers trained long and hard to learn the sport inside out, and strived to reach his goal of becoming the best. He has certainly come along way from simply fantacising about taking part in the Olympics to actually go ahead to target a gold medal at the next Olympic games.
In an interview with local press, Piers said, “It is just bizarre to think that I am now world number one.”
However, his dreams of attending the games in Rio all hang on his place being confirmed. The Olympic qualification period ends in May, but as Piers is ranked as world number one in the sport, it is thought to be more than likely he will win his place and be attending.
Piers, from Drybrook, has been focused on his training at the Innsworth Community Hall for the next Olympics for the last five months. He told the press: “Gloucester has been brilliant for me; it has really helped my development as a fencer. I think it really important to keep these local connections.”
Despite being wheelchair bound since the age of 11 due to a neuromuscular disorder, Piers has managed to overcome all challenges thrown at him, and has progressed from a novice fencer to world number one in just six short years.
Talking about how he first got started in the sport, he said: “I had always been interested in it as a sport but I started just by chance in Churchdown.” Piers was trained by Kevin Nelson at the Churchdown club, who himself had to take a training course to learn how to train wheelchair fencing. Piers went on to take part in his first ever international event in July 2012.
To achieve world number one ranking is an amazing achievement, and his mother couldn’t be more proud of her son. Jo Gilliver, mother of Piers, told the press: “It is fantastic for me to see my son doing so well. For him to be the world number one is a just the result of a lot of hard work that he has put in, I am so proud.”
We shall all have to keep an eye out for Piers when he goes for gold in Rio this summer! We would like to wish him all the luck in the world. You can follow Piers on twitter https://twitter.com/piersgilliver
We have already seen the remarkable stride forward in driver-less vehicles with the invention of the iconic Google driver-less car, so we can all pretty much expect to see our roads transformed over the next 50 years where driver-less technology will probably take over city taxi services. We already have driver-less trains in some part of the world, and plans are going ahead to have these on the underground in London very soon, so it will only be a matter of time before it will be commonplace on our roads too.
With the growth in popularity of electric cars and the improvements in battery storage, we can predict that automating some driving tasks, such as short journeys around a set route within a city, then re-charging back at a central base, could become a possibility sooner than we think. So what does this mean to the many thousands of disabled and elderly mobility scooter users of the future? Will they no longer need to steer their own mobility scooters, or will there be no need for scooters at all if we become a nation of passengers in driver-less cars?
The freedom that a driver-less car would give to any individual is fantastic. Not having to drive a vehicle yourself, or having the need to rely on a human driver to get you from A to B will very freeing for a lot of people. This could mean an end to parking problems for drivers needing to leave their cars while they work, shop or visit places. If roads were networked with driver-less vehicles, it could be as simple as hopping into a vacant car sitting at a taxi-rank, or we may even have the capability to hail an empty car down on the street as we do now with human drivers.
We may well be able to use an app on our phones to summon a car to come directly to our home to pick us up at a time that is convenient to us. This would be an ideal solution for disabled people who still want the freedom to come and go as they please without having to rely on anyone else, or for the elderly who find it a struggle to drive by themselves any more.
Upon arrival at your chosen destination, you could simply leave the vehicle allowing it to return to base, or to be sent to pick up another customer. One would assume that driver-less vehicle manufacturers would have a range of specially adapted cars suitable for use by disabled passengers, or those with limited mobility. It would certainly be a convenient way of travelling around a city, and may even be more cost-effective to passengers because they wouldn’t need to have paid for their own cars only to have them sitting idle at home or work for hours a day. It may even make city streets less congested because there could be less cars on the road as a result.
The introduction of driver-less technology may also mean that our streets become safer. Automating journeys will take away human error, so the risk of accidents caused by drunk drivers, those under the influence of drugs, and over-tired drivers will be totally eliminated. Speed limits will be adhered to because there will be no option to speed, and the ‘boy-racer’ mentality could become a thing of the past.
The costs per journey would be purely based on distance travelled, and as everyone would presumably pay the same going rate, there shouldn’t be a need for different levels of fares like we see on the trains of today for example. There may well still be the option to drive, and there will always be people who prefer to drive simply for the pleasure of it. Plus of course it would be impractical for motorbikes to be driver-less. However, if car insurance premiums were to rise to high levels because driving would be seen as the more risky option, then this could encourage even more people to give up driving in favour of the driver-less option.
The next 50 years is going to be an interesting time for motorist, and while we can see urban cities and large towns benefiting from driver-less technology years before smaller towns and villages in the countryside, one would imagine that eventually all UK roads would become adaptable for use by driver-less cars.