There is something I feel needs to be given more importance in society: access and getting around with mobility aids. I am 38 years old and was diagnosed with m.s. over 14 years ago. I am doing well and look after myself so I am enjoying life but I do have difficulty walking and cannot move very far. To ease this, 2.5 years ago I got a tricycle (a bike with three wheels and no motor) and it totally changed my life. I can now pop back and forwards, amble along with friends chatting, do my shopping. It really has been a wonderful addition to my life. Yet sometimes it is a real hindrance and, in my opinion, it really should not be.
Every now and then I pluck up the courage to go a little further afield with my trike, a day trip up the coast for example. I do not do it often because I know I will be met with dirty looks and dissing remarks. I will give you an example: on Friday night I wanted to go to a friend’s house. We are both in Barcelona and she lives on the other side of the city to where I am. It is quite a trek and so it is much more manageable for me to go a chunk of the way by bus. It is a bit of a walk at the other end and I need my trike to get from the bus stop to her house so I decided to brave taking my trike on the bus. Sure enough, when I got on the bus I was told my trike did not fit, that the bus was not fitted out for a mobility aid of such a size. However, the bus driver was nice and when I explained my predicament, he let me on with my trike. As soon as the bus got going I turned around and was faced with about 8 people frowning and muttering at me. I did not know what to do so I announced that I have m.s. and I need my trike to get around. Most people then backed down but one lady continued to tell me how selfish I am, that I am not the only person living in this city, I am not normal, etc. I responded in a defensive way then turned around and shed a tear.
It seems like every time I try to do something that many of us take for granted (e.g. the shopping, popping to a friend’s house, going away for the weekend) I am confronted with insults and difficulties. I really want people to be more aware of how something so simple can improve someone’s quality of life immensely. Moreover, I really think buses and trains should be equipped and prepared to deal with and help people with mobility issues and mobility aids and not just wheelchairs. What I have come to understand in the 2.5 years with my trike is that if you are very disabled (in a wheelchair, for example) allowances are made and help is given. However, if you are somewhere between able-bodied and disabled, tough cookies! I have chosen to use a pedal driven trike for the reasons given above and because it keeps me fit and keeps my spirits up.
I would really appreciate any advice anyone can give me on how to deal with this issue and steps I can take to try and make a difference.