by Diane Brown © 2008
Diane Brown, of Victoria BC, shares her solo trip to London, England which she navigated with her scooter.
I travel alone and use a mobility scooter ... and an enormous wheeled suitcase. Believe it or not I manage quite well. Recently I took the scooter to London. As others remark, the Tube is basically impossible with a scooter or wheelchair. Too many barriers and too many unknowns. I did make it through Heathrow with kind help from one of their staff. Then I was able to get into Paddington on the Heathrow Connect, which is I believe a new service. In most ways it's identical to the Heathrow Express, except that it costs a lot less (£6.90 as opposed to £15). I used it going back as well. I was able to stay in summer vacation housing of the University College of London, up near Tottenham Court Road. It was inexpensive, and they, too, were helpful.
I didn't attempt a bus, which I have found tricky in the past, but I certainly was all over that sector of London. I went to the theatre twice and both times was able to arrange ahead via e-mail, so the scooter could be parked inside the theatre for security. Both the Criterion Theatre and the Palace were again helpful. Twice I visited friends via trains, but I had to leave the scooter behind both times, and while I can walk a bit, they were painful experiences. I also used the black taxis several times, and they were great. One circumstance that gives me an edge is that I am not at all frail and am able to hop off the scooter and help with moving it around. I use a Shoprider travel scooter, so while there is weight, it's not too heavy.
From there we flew to Oslo, where I stayed at the Raddison, which is just across from the airport. And I stored the scooter in their baggage room while I went on with a Travel Wild tour to Spitsbergen. There were outings that involved hikes and that I couldn't participate in, but the tour company was also very help about arranging simple cruises for those passengers who just wanted to look and not hike. There were two passengers who were much more disabled than I, and all of us went out on the zodiacs. Both the tour company and the Russian ships crew were very good about doing what needed to be done to help us get on/off the zodiacs. (At one point, I performed a maneuver getting off that the tour guide remarked she had never seen before! It worked for me, however.)
cases the airlines (Air Canada and SAS) were
very good about transporting the scooter. I have never had any problem with
that end of things. So now on top of London -- two times -- Disneyland and
Hawaii, my scooter has been to Oslo. Perhaps with the help of your newsletter I
can figure out what might be possible next.
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