I’ve written before about a local art shop that I can only access by going through the goods entrance because of the steps up to the main entrance . Poppy and I went there earlier today and we’re now painfully aware that entering by this route is not only undesirable, it’s also very dangerous.
The pavement that forms a ramp for the goods entrance slopes quite steeply. It goes straight out onto a busy one-way road full of cars and double-decker buses.
As we were leaving this afternoon Poppy tried to turn my chair round onto the pavement. But the slope was too steep and the chair started to tip. For what seemed like ages, but was actually only a few seconds, I hung sideways in the air as Pops struggled to get the chair upright again. But it was a losing battle. It went over, I crashed onto my side, and I ended up partly in the road and partly on the pavement.
The ground was wet and dirty and my face and head pressed into the cold tarmac. I was particularly aware that the large open graze on my forehead from a ‘ticcing fit’ the other day was stinging as it was squashed into the grimy street.
Poppy and the shop assistant who’d been letting us out hurriedly tried to turn me upright, but the combined weight of the chair and me was too much for them. Poppy shouted to some passers-by and with their help I eventually got back up the right way.
My chair’s turned on its side once before and on both occasions it’s been an incredible shock. Today, though, it was entirely avoidable – had there been a proper accessible entrance to the shop and not a steep slope straight onto a road I wouldn’t have tipped over.
Poppy and I were both shaken by the experience. I was muddy and my shoulder and neck had been wrenched painfully in the fall but I was otherwise unhurt. It could’ve been much more serious had Poppy not been able to slow the fall of my chair, or had it happened while a bus was passing.
It’s totally unacceptable for buildings to be inaccessible and dangerous like this. I’ll be writing to the shop to describe what happened in the hope that the prospect of a wheelchair user coming out of their shop being seriously injured or killed will persuade them to improve their access.
Last time I checked, buying drawing paper was not an extreme sport.