Wheelchair enabled Uber vehicles added to London fleet

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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.

Mobility Roadshow Hits the Silverstone Tarmac

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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

Shame As A Burglar Sells A Mobility Scooter Right After The Owners Death

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A heartless thief has been branded as shameful after he stole a mobility scooter and sold it online only a day after the victim died.

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.