In accessible travel news from across the Big Pond, scooters are now prohibited on the the Tyne and Wear Metro system. Apparently this new regulation is the result of several near misses with scooter-users. The ban replaces a temporary regulation enacted in April, which required scooter-users to travel with a companion.
Officials at Nexus, the transport agency in charge of the trains, claim that scooter-users “shoot off the platforms” and “plough through the train doors”. In one case they even say that a scooter-user had so much momentum that she shot out the doors on the opposite side of the train and fell on the track, just minutes before another train came through.
Nexus also holds that scooters are just not designed to maneuver in tight spaces, like platforms and trains. The ban will remain in effect for six months, at which time Nexus will re-evaluate the situation. It should also be noted that the ban only applies to scooters; not to power or manual wheelchairs.
Obviously, this news has not been very well received by scooter-users in the area., but to be honest I’m a bit baffled by it all. I mean just lest week I read an article about how the whole country will be improving access for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. This seems a step back in that respect.
Plus I just don’t see scooter-users willy-nilly throwing themselves on the tracks. There has to be an access problem here. Why would you go barreling through the doors if they operated in an accessible manner? I ride BART all the time in San Francisco and routinely see scooter-users on the trains. There is plenty of room for them to park by the doors and the platforms are all level.
So if there are access problems with the “tight spaces” on the platforms, then fix the access problems – don’t get rid of the people who need the access modifications. Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater!
Wake up Nexus!! Don’t penalize scooter-users because your facilities are inaccessible.
Fix the problem so everyone can ride!