Step AWAY from the train.


Richmond – Kingston –  Return

Another Saturday, another Rugby World Cup game. That means 80,000 people heading to Twickenham, 10,000 people heading to the Fanzone in Richmond (whatever that is), plus an unknown number of chancers heading to the area in the hope of some Rugby, or alcohol, based entertainment.

I’m happy for  them, and for the economic boost that these hungry and thirsty fans are bringing to the area. For the most part I’ll stay out of the way and let them get on with it. Sometimes, however, I need to pass through the melee to get where I’m going and that’s when the fun starts.

First off, the trains are mostly a non-starter. Even going in the opposite direction to the incoming fans their sheer volumes makes getting round the station a rather hit or miss affair, and in a wheelchair there are rather too many ‘hits’. The staff tend to be both busy and stressed, and whilst they’re happy to help with the ramp, it’s easier all round if I don’t ask them to.

Not catching the train means catching a bus, but the westbound bus stops in Richmond are all just where the swarms empty  out of the train station.

If you’re not a wheelchair user there are some things you should know;

  1. Wheelchairs go backwards and forwards, they don’t go sideways.
  2. Wheelchairs don’t stop dead, they take just a second to slow down.
  3. Wheelchairs don’t go thinner to squeeze  through gaps, this isn’t Harry Potter you know.
  4. Electric wheelchairs, even small ones, have more pushing power than you do.
  5. A wheelchair is a metal safety cage. The worst consequence of a collision with a pedestrian is going to be cleaning the blood off the frame.
  6. A wheelchair is low in a  crowd so has a very restricted field of vision.

These immutable laws mean that, in crowds, there are some behaviours that aren’t going to end well.

  1. Don’t suddenly stop, you’re likely to get your ankles bashed
  2. Don’t step across the path of a wheelchair, again ankles will suffer
  3. Breathing in is not going to make the gaps wide enough for me, there’s those ankles again
  4. Don’t grab the chair to try to stop me. It won’t work and oops ankles, and toes if you’re unlucky.
  5. Don’t expect me to sidestep out of your way. I don’t care how important you are, or think you are, you can’t change the laws of physics. You’re going to loose this game of chicken, and those ankles will pay  the price.

Do you see a theme?

I’m sure you’ve guessed from the brief primer above, my wheel across  the plaza to the bus stop was not exactly incident free, but with considerable care on my part the injuries were kept to a minimum. I don’t enjoy hurting people, really I don’t. In fact the only thing really hurt were one or two egos and a couple of hearts  beating slightly faster through surprise.

Once on the bus I discovered a Rugby-free oasis and whilst the journey could never be described as smooth, it was at least no more busy than any other Saturday.

The return journey was slightly marred when the bus driver told me that the route was terminating early to avoid Richmond and the crowds. At least I learned this before the bus set off so I could change my route and catch an alternate.

I don’t mind the Rugby World Cup, really, I don’t.

About Alan

I'm an Economist, Geek, Campaigner & wheelchair user who's been using all forms of public transport for 20+ years.
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