Monday May 26 2014 02:21 PM
I’m sure Boris Johnson didn’t have me in mind when he was making London more accessible. More like the 20 million spectator journeys he had to facilitate during the 2012 Olympic Games! Anyhow, I was very happy to reap the benefits of his logistical nightmare when I was planning a trip to visit a friend (who also has MS) in Jolly Old London Town.
I have become very used to driving door to door. And I mean as-close-as-possible to the door! Stairs and long walks would be my biggest barriers to using public transport. I also can’t stand for too long and HATE making a fuss. If I am tired, I plod along at a snail’s pace and the crankiness levels sky-rocket. Most trips are planned in minute detail after a few bad experiences- like the time I took the train to Skerries with the kids in tow for a “Famous Five Style Summer Picnic”. It turns out that Skerries Station is on the outskirts of the village and by the time we made it to our destination, I was being a Rotter and EVEN the lashings of ginger-ale couldn’t make it better…..
My friend told me about the “Plan a Journey” page on the “Transport For London” site when I was working out how I would get to her. The site has an “Accessibility & Travel Options” section where I could choose from a selection of mobility preferences. The ones that suited me best were:
- I want the route with least walking
- I can use escalators but not stairs
Sweet!!!!! But then it got better. I could choose my Walking Speed (slow!) and Maximum Walk Time (10 minutes!). The “Plan My Journey” button gave me all the options I had to get from Gatwick Airport to my friend’s house, including Accessibility Information for each leg (For example: A ramp is provided at this station providing step-free access onto Central line trains) and how long it will take me to get to my destination at my tortoise’s pace.
Another thing I love about London’s “Plan My Journey” page is that it treats me like a person. Yes- I know a website is an inanimate object but it manages to grant disability normality. I feel like it’s OK to be a slow walking step-hater and that I’m not alone. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if something “Plan My Journey” existed in airports, in tourist offices, in large cities….? Take a bow Boris!