- Richmond – Willesden – Shepherd’s Bush – Taxi – Return
One of the pleasures of living in London is that there’s so much to do, and if you play your cards right, quite a lot of it is free. One opportunity always open is to be in the audience of some TV or radio show. Tickets are always in high demand, so I was particularly pleased to get tickets for Dave Gorman’s latest series filming in Notting Hill.
Notting Hill is a lovely part of London but is a desert as far as accessible transport goes, especially if you don’t get on with buses. The approach to use is to get as close as possible to your destination and use more personal methods for the last mile. The ‘last mile’ is an important concept for the disabled traveller it being the distance between the end of your public transport journey and your actual destination. This is usually the least convenient and most expensive part of the journey but is essential particularly in inclement weather or on those dark, cold winter evenings.
The first step to getting to Notting Hill was to get to Shepherd’s Bush via Willesden. I always take a perverse pleasure in causing slight confusion amongst assistance staff by varying my usual route, but I’m pleased to say that this journey went off without a hitch. I had intended to walk (wheel) the last mile to the studio but having missed my intended train (entirely my fault) I was now running late and couldn’t spare the time. Instead, staff at Shepherds Bush were kind enough to point me towards the taxi rank. It took a little finding due to a misunderstanding on my part which I only understood when I saw the last taxi leaving.
Desperation called for hailing a taxi from flowing traffic. This meets with mixed success usually as some drivers don’t want the hassle of loading a wheelchair and therefore “fail” to see you. Where possible I avoid this problem by standing well out of the way and having someone I’m traveling with do the hailing. This meets with much more success, and so it did tonight. This 1.5 mile journey cost £8 but it did at least make up the time and get us to the studio.
Coming back, the studio staff kindly offered to call a cab. Unfortunately, neither of their regular companies had wheelchair accessible vehicles so I was left once more tramping the streets. After a short walk and with some luck, we found a black cab to do the ‘first mile’ for us back to Shepherds Bush, and then through some willing assistance, from there onto Richmond via Willesden. Sadly, and is often the case late at night, there was no ramp to meet me at Richmond and I was stranded until my travelling companion had found someone in the main body of the station.
All in all, a thoroughly good night out with a relatively minor inconvenience in the journey, but it does demonstrate how different modes of transport are necessary to combine to make a successful accessible journey.