Wheelchair users ‘ignored by bus drivers’

A charity has spoken out about many disabled wheelchair users struggling to board buses and being left behind at bus stops.

The Leonard Cheshire Disability charity conducted a survey amongst 179 wheelchair users and found that most had said they had been either turned away when buses are busy, or had been refused a space on a bus.

It was found that two-thirds of the people surveyed had been denied access due to ramps not working, or were missing. It was also revealed that 61% were often faced with pushchairs occupying the wider spaces made for wheelchairs on a bus.

As well as experiencing accessibility problems, those surveyed also reported that they had suffered from intimidation and and rudeness from a driver, while nearly half had experienced the same from bus passengers. At least one in ten had difficulties every time they attempted to board a bus, while just over 40% said they experienced problems every other time they travelled by bus.

Wheelchair users are particularly prone to difficulties when trying to use bus services, especially as there is no law to say that bus companies must give wheelchair users the wide spaces on buses, or even insist that buggies and prams be moved to accommodate them.

As well as conducting the survey, Leonard Cheshire Disability also looked at the main bus companies in operation across the UK to assess their level of knowledge and provision in regard to disability issues. They looked at areas such as disability awareness training for drivers, the use of low-floor buses, checking conditions of carriage for mention of wheelchair users, and priority of use for wheelchair space.

Out of the bus companies studied, the results showed that Go Ahead and Stagecoach came out on top with each reaching a score of 17 out of a maximum 20 points. Arriva and First Bus came in at 14 points, and National Express scored just 10 out of 20.

In an interview, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire, Clare Pelham commented: “It’s great that we have regulations coming in the next year for single decker buses and 2017 for double decker buses to make them all properly accessible for wheelchair users.”

She also added: “For so many wheelchair users, the bus is their only way to get to work, to get to the doctor or simply get to the shops. It’s time that drivers get the training they need to do the right thing.”

One wheelchair user in London will welcome in the new regulations, as she reported her negative experiences to The Richmond and Twickenham Times in an attempt to highlight the difficulties experienced by disabled bus travellers every day across London.

21-year-old Clare Watson, who has a neurological condition that left her wheelchair-bound four years ago, stated that she felt humiliated on a daily basis by being denied access to buses by drivers who refuse to lower their ramps to allow her on board.

In her interview she commented: “It’s a horrible feeling when that happens – you feel worthless and everybody stares. It’s humiliating.”

Clare also stated that many drivers gave excuses for not letting her on such as buggies taking up the wheelchair space, or the ramps not working properly, despite there being a policy in place to check ramps before the buses leave the depot.

Let’s hope that the new regulations will make bus travel more accessible for wheelchair users, and that the necessary changes are actioned on sooner rather than later.

Golf Course makes a U-Turn on ban regarding mobility scooters

Beverley pasture masters golf course near Hull, earlier this year placed a ban on the use of motorised vehicles on the course, including golf buggies and mobility scooters. You may remember the article we wrote on it.

However, after receiving a number of complains a consultation was held, and the ban on mobility scooters has been successfully lifted by town pasture masters on the Beverley Westwood’s golf course.

It was found that the ban had prevented several regular members from playing because they needed mobility scooters to get around. After the club had written to the members about the rule, the pasture masters who supervise the course were made aware of the issue, and made the decision to lift the ban to allow mobility scooter users back onto the course.

One local regular golfer Brian Yates, 77, was interviewed by the local press, and stated that he was delighted at the hearing the news.

A mobility scooter user himself, Mr Yates, of Lockington, told the press: “I have been using my buggy because of my heart problems over the past four-and-a-half years. I have been a member of Beverley Golf Club for quite a number of years and have a lot of friends there so I was pleased when I was told I could come back. This could help people in the future, too.”

The chairman of Beverly Pasture Masters, Allan English, has confirmed that mobility scooters would be permitted on the Westwood course, but that golf buggies would not allowed.

In an interview with local press Mr English said: “It became an issue this year because the club wanted to use golf buggies to hire them out and we said no, it was not the type of course for riding buggies. We are not discriminating against people with disabilities. Mobility scooters are allowed, but it’s up to them to be insured. They are on rough pasture when not on the fairway and it’s at their own risk.”

The popular golf course is set in stunning countryside, and the nature of the terrain as well as the presence of grazing cattle means motorised golf buggies would not be suitable on health and safety grounds.

Mr English expressed concerns that the rough terrain could hide many hazards such as rabbit holes and unexpected obstacles that cause golf buggies to tip over. The pasture masters also have to prioritise the grazing cattle, and this is why golf buggies are banned, and also why there is a 15-yard limit for vehicles in place.

Clearer rules demanded following mobility scooter incident

A 77 year old man has passed away following a collision with a vehicle in Market Harborough on Sunday.

Currently the law on mobility scooters states that some are allowed on roads and others are allowed on dual carriageways

Mobility shop owners have said changes need to be made to the current law.

Helen Walmsley, a driving instructor from Syston said “there are a number of risks involved with the vehicles being on the road
,If people suddenly come behind something that’s doing lower than 10 mph, it will cause a hazard.”

The man who was killed has not yet been named by police. No one else was injured in the collision.

An overview from the Governments own website on the laws of mobility scooters states:

You don’t need a licence to drive a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, but you may have to register it. Only certain types can be driven on the road.

Mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs come in 2 categories:

‘class 2 invalid carriages’ – these can’t be used on the road (except where there isn’t a pavement) and have a maximum speed of 4mph
‘class 3 invalid carriages’ – these can be used on the road, and have a maximum speed of 4mph off the road, and 8mph on the road

You don’t need to register a class 2 invalid carriage.

You must register Class 3 invalid carriages.

You must be 14 or over to drive a class 3 invalid carriage.

Rules for class 3 invalid carriages

Class 3 invalid carriages must 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

You could be stopped by the police if your Class 3 invalid carriage doesn’t have these features.

Driving on the road

You can only drive on the road in a class 3 invalid carriage. The maximum speed is 8mph.

You can’t drive on bus lanes, ‘cycle only’ lanes or motorways. You should avoid using dual carriageways with a speed limit of over 50mph.

You must use an amber flashing light for visibility if you use a class 3 invalid carriage on a dual carriageway.

Road rules

You must follow the Highway Code if you drive your mobility scooter on the road.

Driving on footpaths and parking

All mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs can legally travel at a maximum of 4mph on footpaths or in pedestrian areas.

You can’t drive any type of mobility scooter or powered wheelchair on cycle paths marked ‘cycle only’.

All normal parking restrictions apply to mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs.

Your vehicle shouldn’t be left on a footpath or pedestrian area on its own if it gets in the way of other pedestrians, including wheelchair users and people with prams or pushchairs.

Eyesight requirements

There is no legal eyesight requirement to drive mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs, but you should be able to read a car’s registration number from a distance of 12.3 metres (40 feet).

You must check that you can still do this regularly.

You might have to pay compensation if you have an accident and poor eyesight was part of the cause.

Use by non-disabled people

If you are aren’t disabled, you can only drive a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair if you’re:

demonstrating the vehicle before it’s sold
training a disabled user
taking the vehicle to or from maintenance or repair

Vehicle tax, registration and insurance

You don’t have to pay vehicle tax for any mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, but you still need to register class 3 invalid carriages.

To register a class 3 invalid carriage, complete form V55/4 for new vehicles, or V55/5 for used vehicles. You can get the forms from DVLA’s online ordering service.

Send the completed form to:
DVLA Swansea
SA99 1BE

You can’t license your class 3 invalid carriage online or at a Post Office.

Include evidence of the vehicle’s age (if available).

You don’t need insurance for a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, although it’s recommended.

Official link to the government laws on mobility scooters

Dad turns his sons wheelchair into a Starwars Halloween Snowspeeder

Created entirely by hand, the vehicle even has working glow in the dark soft dart guns and looks amazing. Jeremy loves his new halloween wheels and after his Dad Ryan shared it on YouTube over 220,000 people have viewed it online.

Ryan said ”We turned Jeremy’s wheelchair into his very own snowspeeder from The Battle of Hoth from the Empire Strikes Back!”. Lots of viewers who have seen Jeremy in his wheelchair Snowspeeder have said they would love to serve under the command of the young Jedi, others said what a great father Ryan is to make this for his son.

I do not think Jeremy will be putting this costume away until next halloween.