TFL Put Me At Risk

So, my original platform provider (Go Daddy) have epically failed me, so I have transferred to the wonderful To Host Your Website. The downside is I have had to repost my original blog – sorry to those who have already read it. Welcome, to those that are new to my blogs. Bear with me, as I need to start the website from scratch.

As for cycling? So much to say about a very harrowing TFL experience at Kings Cross tube station. On the 24th October, I alighted at Marylebone train station. There was no step-free access to the tube, so I was instructed to:
1) cycle to Paddington station
2) take the Hammersmith & City line to Kings Cross St Pancras station
3) take the Victoria Line to Brixton station

At the Kings Cross tube entrance, I was approached by a ticket attendant who told me I was not allowed my bicycle on the tube. I explained it was a mobility tricycle, similar to a mobility scooter, showed her my Freedom Pass and a photo of my Blue Badge. I further explained that I had been searching for a disabled sign to attach to the back of my backrest, which would assist with the public knowing I am a Blue Badge holder, but could only find the clear stickers for cars. I was allowed through to the elevators. 

As I entered the allocated carriage of the train, a tube driver on the Southbound Victoria Line, announced to the whole train that I needed to get off as I am not allowed a push bike (I think that’s the name he used). I continued to position my trike in the allocated wheelchair spaces and put the brake on. He went a step further and said the train would not move until I got off. There was no means of communicating with the driver, so I popped my head out of the carriage and shouted, “It’s not a push bike”. This was done at least twice, if not 3 times.

This was around 19:15. Yes, I stood my ground as I know I am entitled to have my mobility tricycle with me. Yes, even on the tube, as taught by Wheels For Wellbeing. When the passengers began asking me to leave the train and wait for another, I became scared, fully aware of the ever-increasing mob mentality – the driver made an inaccurate public announcement, which all passengers believed to be true.

A chap alighted from the adjacent carriage and entered mine. He asked me to please wait for another train, but I politely and assertively refused, explaining that I am a Blue Badge holder and my mobility trike is permitted on the tube. A lady asked me to leave as she had another train to catch which she would miss – I told her that I am a Blue Badge holder so entitled to be on the train and would not be leaving. A youth held his mobile facing me. I looked directly at him and said I hoped he would be posting that I am a Blue Badge holder so entitled to be on the train (or words to that effect). He put his mobile away.

These are just a few examples – I believe I repeated myself at least a few more times. Then I took out my book and pretended to read. Listening and using my peripheral vision to determine if I were in immediate danger, whilst looking down at the pages.

Alighting at Brixton station, I spoke with the station supervisor who was lovely and empathetic. I made a 10-minute call outside the station, waiting for any passengers who were on that train to have the opportunity to continue on their journey. Being as safe as I could possibly be. I even popped into Sainsbury’s local and bought a few items I did not need, increasing the safety zone timings.
 
Then I cycled home as quickly as I could, whilst remaining on high alert. The anxiety I experienced over this intense 50-60 minutes of being in fight-or-flight mode, left me physically and emotionally exhausted. I was physically shaking for at least 3-4 hours, which eventually triggered an Epileptic seizure.
 
Transport for London really do need to educate their staff, as putting passengers in danger is not what I ever expect when making a journey. A starting point is to view the CCTV footage at Kings Cross station around 19:15. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and Minister for Disabled People, Chloe Smith MP need to lead the inclusivity conversation.
 
For those who may have missed it, here is a disability transport article, from the 8th Sept 2021. It is the same mobility trike I was using on the 24th Oct.
 
Have you ever had a distressing accessible TFL journey? How did it impact you? Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
 
 

6 thoughts on “TFL Put Me At Risk”

  1. Quai, your struggle to stand up for your basic human rights is reminiscent of other struggles for rights. I thank God for for your safety as well as a determination. Hold firm to your values and beliefs. Continue to be the voice championing the less fortunate, marginalised, those in need of direction. Use your platform to inspire and endure.

  2. What a frightening experience! You could’ve well been put into a dangerous situation. Thankyou for highlighting the difficulties faced by invisible disabilities. More awareness needed by the public and companies so we become a more inclusive society.

  3. I am so proud you stood up for yourself and so glad that you are safe. I could imagine how shaken you were by that. It’s a nerve-wracking experience caused by ignorance and lack of agency. Why challenge someone without giving them any way to explain themselves? Continuebto use your voice, live your life, and spread your light. You shine bright Quai!

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