Tackling the world on a mobility scooter opens up a whole new world though I’m not sure it’s a fantastic point of view (see what I did there?!).
Suddenly you have to look at route planning differently, you’re no longer concerned about taking the quickest route or the most scenic route but you now have to plot based on drop kerbs and smooth surfaces (. You have to cross roads at crossings, you definitely have to wait for the green man, a path that seemed perfectly level you now discover has a severe adverse camber making you feel like you’ll tip into the road and suddenly every journey requires constant concentration and risk assessments.
I’ve also encountered a feeling I’ve never really encountered before: road rage.
As someone who doesn’t drive I’ve never really done the whole road rage thing but now the anger fills me regularly. The car parked half on the path outside the station blocking my way (& the driver looking massively affronted when asked to move), the cars pulling into ‘Keep Clear’ spaces/crossings/blocking the only drop kerb for what seems like miles! My other huge (& new) bugbear is able bodied people using lifts when there are escalators right there. Yes, I know some disabilities are invisible but the girl with the wheelie bag who then strutted down the concourse faster than my scooter on top speed (4mph I’ll have you know!) and yet almost made me miss my train by repeatedly delaying the lift or the group of gangsta bois getting off the DLR and not leaving me much room to manoeuvre really didn’t seem to need to use the lift at all, it just didn’t occur to them that I had no choice but to.
It’s literally something that occurs daily and as infuriating as it is the fact that I only noticed it once I was disabled does show me that it is born out of literal ignorance, not out of selfishness or malice.
There is therefore one thing I’d like to ask those able bodied people who might read this to do: next time you are out look down, notice how rare dropped kerbs are, how they are often still pretty high (which then either makes them insurmountable or causes jarring pain for the scooter/wheelchair user), notice how our choices of journey are limited, how blocking lifts or kerbs mean we literally can’t continue our journey, remember that we need the disabled toilets because we need the spacious cubicle for our wheels and need the rails to help us on and off the loo, it’s not that we don’t want to queue. I want you to notice all of the little choices that you have everyday, that you don’t even realise you are making and notice how they get taken away when you are disabled.
If the able bodied can start to see things from the eyes of those of us depending on our wheels then maybe we can all start making decisions to improve access and give the disabled back some of the choices we have lost because I think most of us have already lost enough.