In a significant milestone for disabled rights, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of wheelchair user Doug Paulley’s argument that a bus company hadn’t done enough to get a woman with a pushchair to heed the sign ‘Please vacate this space for a wheelchair user’ and allow him onto the bus.
Bus companies are not expected to compel other to vacate the space but are now expected to make a stronger effort – phrasing the request as a requirement, stopping the bus for a few minutes to bring pressure, etc.
It’s clearly an achievement, but doesn’t let us off the hook. We have big cities, congested and bustling with competing needs. We want full Disabled access and opportunity for parents of young children – especially women. So clarity about the law is only a start. We will need pressure on bus companies to re-think design (fewer seats perhaps), and pressure on pushchair companies for good, slim line design more appropriate for urban spaces. But most of all, we’ll need to work on changing attitudes.