Birmingham has been given a mixed report for wheelchair accessibility by a campaign aiming to highlight mobility issues for the disabled.
Rosemary Bolinger, aged 51, from Eastbourne, highlighted pavements as the worst part of travelling around the city, with the lack of pavement drops causing most problems as part of Time to Get Equal week. Hotel access and availability was also highlighted.
The trip across the country included pit stops at Brighton, Basingstoke, Swindon, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham, Nottingham, Chester and Bangor.
The week is designed to celebrate disabled rights and raise awareness about the discrimination faced by disabled people.
As well as having an important part to play in the awareness week, Rosemary’s trip was also a practical one to see if she could successfully travel to Wales, to see her 21-year-old daughter, currently studying in Bangor. Rosemary, arrived in Birmingham by National Express and first impressions of the area outside the coach station resulted in a ‘bumpy’ experience.
“The staff at the National Express bus station were great but the pavement outside is in a terrible condition,” she said.
Shortly after arriving, Rosemary and her party attempted to eat at a nearby cafe, but found it difficult as the proprietor had no ramp.
“The staff at the cafe considered doing something when we pointed out how much money they were losing out on, but they weren’t desperate to help,” she said.
Rosemary and the group had a positive experience in the developed areas, such as The Bullring shopping centre and Broad Street. They especially praised Costa, whose staff were ‘all too happy to help’.
Despite praise for the most famous parts of the city, travel between landmarks became difficult for the group.
“The pavements were the worst experienced in my trip last week, even London comes off better.”
Rosemary and her son, who was accompanying her on the trip, found travelling around the city difficult, tiring and stressful, exacerbated by accommodation issues.
In an attempt to keep the ‘off the hoof’ feel of the trip, they did not look for accommodation until arriving, but she said many hotels were full or could not accommodate a wheelchair user.
“The difficulties I faced are the ones that often prevent disabled people from travelling. The hotels then provide less disabled rooms and so it turns into a vicious circle, which needs to be broken,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Birmingham City Council said the authority is set to launch a guide to Accessible Birmingham to provide visitors with information about accessible public transport.