Wheeling into the Agenda!

Wheels for Wellbeing’s Campaigns and Policy Manager talks with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling and Walking to influence the Cycling (Wheeling) and Walking Investment Strategy 2.

Last week, Wheels for Wellbeing’s new Campaigns and Policy Manager, Kay Inckle, attended a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling and Walking (AAPGCW). Kay was there alongside Kirsty Hoyle (Transport for All) and Georgia Yexley (Tier Scooters), to give evidence on ways to ensure that the second stage of the Cycling, (Wheeling), and Walking Investment Strategy (CWWIS2) is inclusive and meets our campaign goals.

Kay came in strong, declaring that since 15-20% of the population have a Disability, at least 15-20% of the funding should go towards Disabled people’s needs to bring better mobility justice and overcome the deficit that remains within active travel and public transport infrastructure. The concept of mobility equity is part of Wheels for Wellbeing’s wider ethos around Mobility Justice.

Travel and transport infrastructure is largely geared towards those who already have the most mobility options rather than those who have the least. We believe that Disabled people’s mobility should be at the heart of CWWIS2, otherwise Disabled people (and other minoritised communities) will be left behind. Investing in walking, wheeling and cycling that is accessible to everyone is essential for equitable, healthy and connected communities – not to mention meeting sustainability targets.

During the meeting, Kay stated: “There needs to be a direct target of active travel and micro mobilities for Disabled people in CWISS2 and there needs to be a measurable outcomes set. There needs to be a specific funding stream targeted towards achieving those measurable outcomes […] and there needs to be a real focus on also hooking up public transport systems with active travel for Disabled people as well, so that means allowing all kinds of mobility aids on public transport, on a daily basis without the inconvenience of having to pre-book and ensure there’s ramps and space.”

In answering the question, “What does catering for all in our streets really mean when it comes to walking wheeling and cycling? How do we balance those aspects just mentioned when it comes to design?”, Kay responded, “[it] is how you conceptualize streets and who they’re for. In this panel we’re talking about cycling, walking, and wheeling but in the funding there’s no wheeling mentioned at all. I think it’s really important to start with a conceptualisation that includes Disabled people […] We would argue that adding wheeling (it’s an imperfect term and it doesn’t literally incorporate all Disabled people) is telling people, designers, planners, funders that this is about Disabled people”.

Throughout the conversation, the clear message was that the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Duty for Equality aren’t currently suitable to manage the challenges Disabled people face in accessing public spaces. There was a strong call for aggregated data and a matrix approach to inclusion with people who have lived experience of the difficulties faced to communities, so that they can become part of planning, funding and making decisions about the UK’s transport networks.

On behalf of Wheels for Wellbeing, Kay also reminded the AAPGCW that a siloed approach to Active Travel won’t be as effective as an approach bringing in further changes and understanding from other Government departments, such as the Department for Health and the Department for Work and Pensions: “There is a bigger picture and that does involve all of this making sense with what other government departments are doing. So, it’s no good trying to get Disabled people into active travel if the DWP is going to take your benefits off you, or the NHS won’t give you a decent wheelchair or won’t let you put a handcycle onto it. I think there needs to be a much more joined up understanding of where Disabled people fit into society more broadly, as well as things like active travel and transport.”

In our evidence to the AAPGCW, Wheels for Wellbeing didn’t just consider the needs of Disabled people who can afford to cycle, be that financial or energetic cost considerations, but was also asking the UK Government to ensure broader considerations are made for the needs of people with Disabilities who interact with this infrastructure – i.e. those using connected public transport systems; parking their car; walking or wheeling along pavement space clear of obstructions from parked vehicles and local business spilling into the streets; or traversing the suggested new segregated mobility lanes designed for people using all types of amplified mobility devices (including scooters, cycles and electric add-ons).

To read Wheels for Wellbeing’s evidence around how better inclusion and mobility justice should be at the heart of the CWWIS2.

The full AAPGCW session featuring Kay Inkle can also be watched via YouTube.

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