Monday, 29 November 2010

Bicycles are not permitted

to be carried on buses or trams in Adelaide. They may be carried on trains with some exceptions. Baby prams/pushers/strollers, gophers, walkers and wheelchairs may be carried on trains.
Access to the train is made by the driver leaving his cabin, unlocking a container, taking out a "ramp" and putting it in place. Once the ramp has been used it is removed, relocked in the container and the driver returns to his cabin to resume the journey. Delays and late arrivals and missed connections are common.
Some buses and trams will take baby prams/pushers/strollers. They will take "mobility aids" such as wheelchairs and gophers providing that the individual (or someone travelling with them) can manouvre themselves up and down the ramp that slides out. Not all buses have this ramp. Buses and trams were not designed to take bicycles and larger gophers cannot fit on a bus.
Adelaide also has "access" taxis - van like vehicles designed to take a wheelchair or gopher. There are not enough of these.
The situation is no different from the situation in other parts of the world where any thought has been given to transport needs. In other words, if you have the need for a mobility aid, public transport may or may not be accessible and you may or may not be able to go where you are going. We worry about buildings being accessible and sometimes put in ridiculously expensive alterations to ensure they are - but there is little point in this unless you can get to the building in the first place.
On days like Christmas Day the situation becomes critical. There is very limited public transport and "access" taxis need to be booked several months in advance. I know of at least five people who book their Christmas Day transport in June; others arrange that family comes to them instead. Even if you have booked the transport that is no guarantee that it is going to arrive on time, or even arrive at all.
All this has, of course, been discussed for years by those who need to use the transport system. Some progress has been made. A friend of mine, now deceased, spent years arguing for accessible buses. The first one appeared after her death. Future buses are supposed to be accessible, so are the trams.
And of course I need to be different. My tricycle, definitely a mobility aid, is classed as a "bicycle". I am permitted to take it on the train and I can do so even when bicycles are not permitted (such as at the time of the Royal Show) but I still cannot take it on a bus or a tram. I do not know if I could call an access cab and ask them to take me somewhere. I have never tried.
This thought occurred to me when I had to avoid a scattering of deliberately smashed beer bottle in the underpass at a railway station last week.
This morning's paper has an article about the transport needs of people on Christmas Day. I happen to know that the couple interviewed have an accessible van of their own. They are fortunate but they will still continue the fight for universally accessible public transport.
I am fortunate too. On Christmas Day I will pedal over to my sister's place. My father will ride his gopher.
I will however continue the fight for universally accessible public transport. After all, my friends are getting older. More of them will need gophers one day.

3 comments:

virtualquilter said...

What is needed is an underground system built for gohpers, tricycles, etc, complete with recharge stations, gopher police and ambulance services.

(I have a friend who really wanted somewhere to do wheelies in a wheelchair .. hence the need for police!)

Judy B

catdownunder said...

I have friends who do wheelies in their wheelchairs - and just watch them on a basketball court - talk about dangerous!

Sheep Rustler said...

I have been infuriated a couple of times when I have called for a taxi (using the automatic 'up to four passengers' option via the phone) and been sent a wheelchair taxi. When I have p[olitely pointed out that I did not request one I have been told 'well, no-one else wants it', which I know is most unlikely to be true! I have heard too many stories of people not being able to get them. People can carry bikes on trains here though there may be some restrictions in peak hour, I think, and there is no way there would be room for them on buses or trams as most of them can only accommodate one or two wheelchairs or electric scooters (I presume that is what a 'gopher' is) and a pushchair of two and bikes as well would make it more crowded than would be possible. I suppose the rationale is (rather wonkily) that if you have a bike you can ride it instead, but the others might be less able to do so. I would like to see all transport accessible to everyone!

On a separate issue, when my children were toddlers I used a lightweight pushchair that took up a minimuim of room. These days they seem to be the size of a small planet!