Richmond – Waterloo – Waterloo East – London Bridge – Return
I travel frequently often with somebody else, but with me as the only wheelchair. Today I had a visitor so we headed off into London to do some touristy things and a craft market. What made this unusual was that she us a manual wheelchair user so it felt a little like “Convoy”, the bad 70’s song/movie.
I already knew that there was just enough room on the Waterloo-bound train for two wheelchairs as I have shared the space before. What I hadn’t appreciated was the ramps than I’ve always considered perfectly manageable in my electric chair represent quite a hazard for my friend in her manual. This was highlighted when she slid the first eighteen inches down the ramp and then her footrests grounded at the bottom bringing her to an abrupt halt. Fortunately she was expecting this and was able to deal with it by pulling a small wheelie. But it does highlight the different requirements and that one person’s solution is another person’s hazard.
During the course of the day I found the problem was consistent across three types of train, four types of ramp, and four stations. I don’t know whether consistency is the best approach because it allows you to anticipate problems and be prepared for them, or whether it would be nice just to get it right at least once.
To be fair to the train companies, the foot plates on her manual chair are set very low and she’s quite used to, indeed revels in, pulling wheelies.
Interestingly with two wheelchairs nothing went wrong, perhaps that’s my mistake. I need to travel in a pack, roaming the transport network like wild animals, or like joggers on our streets.