Sunday, July 27, 2008

Strollers vs. wheelchairs in Scotland

One Scottish bus company's decision to not let moms and strollers with babies board buses so that wheelchairs can be accommodated seems to set up unnecessary conflict. I am 100% in favor of wheelchair access on the buses, but if no wheelchair user is on the bus, couldn't a mother and stroller be allowed on? Obviously, wheelchair users get first accommodation, but to "ban" moms and strollers seems a bit extreme. How about telling moms with strollers to fold up the stroller if someone using a wheelchair is on board or boards? But if a wheelchair user isn't using the accessible space, shouldn't a stroller be accommodated? All the wonderful architectural access that has come to the modern world to make the built world more accommodating to people with mobility impairments has also benefited many non-disabled people, like moms with strollers. It would be sad to create animosity by banning moms with strollers.

From The Scotsman in Edinburgh, Scotland July 26:

Bus drivers in Edinburgh have been told not to allow prams on board to keep the space free for wheelchair users.

Lothian Buses drivers have been given the instruction as the company seeks to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act.

While parents with fold-up buggies are still allowed on – on the understanding the buggies will be folded if a disabled passenger boards the bus – traditional prams have been outlawed.

One young mum said she only discovered the new rules on a trip into town at the weekend.

Kirsti Mill and her newborn son Oakley waited for an hour in Princes Street on Saturday before a bus driver took pity on them. They had caught the bus earlier that day from Wester Hailes without any problems.

She and her mother Arlene, 41, from Hailesland Gardens, are angry that passengers were not informed of the change. They say that it is unfair on parents of young children, who may rely on the buses in order to get around the city.