One of the downfalls of having an electric wheelchair is getting into a taxi. It is certainly possible and with ease but the problem is that some taxi drivers and local government officials have a very different idea.
Some taxi drivers seem to bolt when they see me and my wheelchair, simply refusing to take me, claiming the chair is too big, too heavy and not the right colour if they believe they could get away with it. The law is mostly on my side but there is a new issue creeping in that complicates matters.
After a death of a wheelchair user in a taxi travelling sideways in Birmingham, local government officials, like in Coventry, have decided that wheelchairs must travel back facing and restrained in the way it looks in the brochure. This is fine if you have half a hour and a patience well mannered driver but this is not how it works in the real world.
I am sure I could position my chair in the proper way but I am never been asked in do so in any chair and I am sure none of my friends have been asked either. Travelling sideways in quicker for the driver and for me, and I take my responsibility for what is still not an ideal situation.
In a recent trip to London, I saw a sign in the taxi which ‘advised’ wheelchair users how they should be positioned and so releasing the responsibility to them. I think this is the only way forward. It is also changing the attitudes of drivers so they welcome wheelchair users and not regard them as an annoyance.