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Great British Bus Tour
By bus and coach: with the
wheelchair across Britain © SXC
Daring Clive Bailey and James Skinner have finished a trip of a lifetime by travelling the length of mainland Britain between the iconic points of Land End to John O’Groats.
Wheelchair user Clive completed the 900-mile week-long trip – via Exeter, Birmingham, Glasgow and Inverness - using buses and coaches to test how easy is to get around.
Clive Bailey said: “I had a fantastic time, and loved the beauty of the Highlands and liked most local buses. But, I’m a bit sad that many drivers across the UK didn’t give me the chance to get into the wheelchair bay once I was on their bus. And, I also had to be pulled onto some coaches by my travelling companion, which is not very dignified. In twenty first century Britain it should be much, much easier for me to travel.”
Clive usually uses an electric wheelchair to go where he wants when he wants to. On this journey he used a folding manual wheelchair as many buses do not have room for his larger electric chair, which thereby reduces his ability to move around independently.
Commenting his journey James said: “On the whole local buses were good and had a working ramp, but the lack of space meant Clive couldn’t use an electric wheelchair. Some ramps did not work and one driver said he didn’t have time to lower it”.
Some of the coach companies they used required up to 72 hours notice to book a vehicle accessible for wheelchairs, but in order to complete the journey in time they often had to take the first bus or coach available. James Skinner said, “We found that it is very difficult for a wheelchair user to do things ‘off the cuff’.”
Bus and coach companies have a duty under the Disability Discrimination Act to make their fleets accessible. Buses weighing up to 7.5 tonnes will be fully accessible in 2015. All coaches – on scheduled services carrying over 22 people - will be accessible by 2020.
The journey was a part of Scope’s Time to Get Active mass participation event and is an opportunity for disabled and non-disabled people to get involved in physical activity and raise funds for Scope.
REHACARE.de; Source: Scope
- More about Scope at: www.scope.org.uk