Diana, a Green Party friend in Waltham Forest, writes about here about her difficulties in getting around London:
A severely disabled person attempting the challenges of London’s transport system currently needs the patience and determination, if not the skills, of a trained mountaineer.Spare a moment, if you will, to consider the ups and downs of your average London underground station. Outside central London, lifts and escalators are rare and both stairs and platforms can become very slippery in wet weather. The dearth of lifts cancels out any wheelchair users for a start. So suppose that you are temporarily disabled, using one or 2 crutches to get around. Assume you have managed to safely negotiate the stairs without being elbowed aside or wrong-footed by the frenzied jostlings of impatient wage slaves. You arrive on the platform, only to be faced with a heart-stopping gap between platform and train (gaps can be vertical or horizontal; both are scary when one is travelling disabled and alone). A train arrives, crowded to bursting, with nowhere to sit or even to hold on. Since you don’t want to hold onto another unknown passenger for stability, you realize that off-peak hours are the only possibility for you – and you slink off, defeated.
My nearest station is Leytonstone on the Central Line. It has a long ramp from street level to ticket hall. So far so good for the wheelchair-bound, parents with pushchairs or travellers with heavy wheeled suitcases. But from ticket hall to platform, the only option is a flight of steps. Since having my hip operation in October, I have only been into Central London twice, both times in my car. The most recent journey was last week, as a delegate to the Sustainable Schools Alliance Working Party, in South Kensington. The start time for this was 9.30am. I left the house at 7.20 and arrived at 9.25. Had I travelled by underground I would have been able to leave a whole hour later without compromising my arrival time.
Yes, it’s goodbye 9-5, unless you are prepared to brave the traffic. Travelling in by car takes on average a third longer to get to work, and the payment of a daily congestion charge of £10 plus punitive parking fees of £25+ per day, not to mention the petrol prices - not going down anytime soon. And as for personal carbon emissions? Forget it.
So it was with a great sense of relief that I learned that Green Party mayoral candidate Jenny Jones was addressing the needs of London’s disabled residents by making accessibility a central plank in her electoral campaign. Her call on 23rd March for making a minimum of one third of the tube network step-free by 2018 comes not a minute too soon for those of us either temporarily or permanently disabled, whose life choices are severely limited by lack of safe access to the transport system.
I am one of the lucky ones. I can work from home. But maybe in the near future...Diana Korchien (Press Officer, Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party)
Unbelievably no tube stations and only one Overground station out of four tube still do not have step free access in Waltham Forest.This Tube Map, showing only inaccessible tube stations, highlights the limited journeys that can be made (www.jennyforlondon.org/fresh-ideas/accessible-london/)
I agree with our Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones who said: “We need to aspire to an inclusive transport system, where no one is prevented for using London's public transport. In the year that the Paralympics will be held in London it is shameful that the overwhelming majority of the tube system is still inaccessible to hundreds of thousands of people. This is nothing short of transport apartheid.”
Ken Livingstone promised 90 out of 270 stations would be step-free by 2013. Boris Johnson made the promise of 68 step-free stations by the end of 2010. Neither promise has been fulfilled.
Our accessibility manifesto also focuses on:
• Accessible transport—including making all bus stops accessible by 2018
• Accessible Olympics—making sure there are enough staff on hand to help those who need it • Accessible homes—making sure that 15% of new homes are wheelchair accessible
• Accessible high streets—making sure essential services and amenities are accessible
• Accessible green spaces—making sure everyone can access parks, play spaces and animal habitats
From ensuring that there are always staff at stations, to installing stair lifts and thinking creatively about the use of escalators, political will is required to make it happen. The Green Party has that will.