On a blindingly hot day, sitting in your wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV), slowing towards a busy roundabout, what’s the worst that might happen if we take horrendous multi-vehicle pile-up off the menu?
I’d suggest that total engine failure might be quite high on the list of ‘aagh’ events though ‘aagh’ was not the first word out of my mouth as D clicked the ignition repeatedly in bewilderment as our car engine switched itself off.
No weird noises. No warning lights. Electrics all working fine. Total. Engine. Silence.
We’d just filled the tank … ‘Oh no,’ said D. ‘I think I put unleaded in, not diesel.’
As it turns out, per Google, a surprising number of ‘idiots’ – their word not mine – do that. And, it doesn’t end well generally. For starters, your engine shuts down. Duh!
For a wheelchair user, stranded, blocking the road amidst lorries, buses and rushing cars, with no easy exit or way home … I was not in my happy place.
I’ll skip over the hoots, toots and swearing; the hour and half wait for the recovery service who happily towed the car home but wanted me to sort my own transport; the call centre operator who didn’t understand why my big power wheelchair needed a new-style black cab; the unhelpful old-style black cab driver with the broken ramp who expected me to roll up it anyway and stomped away when I refused because it wasn’t safe.
All this in blistering heat, outside a police station on a busy Saturday afternoon .
Luckily, having featured UberWAV on this blog a couple of years ago, we decided this was the moment to try them. It was that or a three mile trek home on my wheelchair – a nightmare for me in the sun with my skin cancer plus the totally shite pavements and roads.
D has the app so we logged in and, result. A WAV was in Chiswick and could be with us in fifteen minutes.
With our cynicism about all things WAV, we were still dubious as to whether it – a Peugeot – would be of a size to take my – very long – chair but, man, were we wrong to doubt.
I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when the driver arrived within the time, backed up to the pavement and lowered his lovely wide ramp. He slid the middle bank of seats away, I rolled straight in. It was all so wonderfully easy.
Straps secured my wheelchair down – luckily D could show him the tie points. On length, I did have to tuck my legs right in, shifting my – mechanised – footplates back as far as I was able (not uncomfortable for me), so he could move the ramp back up and close the rear door.
I was in and there was even a seatbelt to fasten across me. Unbelievable. The number of black cabs I’ve been in and felt less safe …
Our drive home was a doddle. Sure, the humps can be tricky and the corner turning and braking but that’s all about getting used to a car/wheelchair dynamic. When it’s your own WAV, you get to know what’s best. In an untried WAV, there’s always a bit of the unknown about how that car/chair dynamic will work. This driver was really helpful and took it easy when he saw me bouncing the curves.
At home, getting out was as easy as getting in. With the wide ramp, I had the little bit of wiggle room my wheels needed to line up and reverse out.
Overall, me&D were ecstatic – we’d both been dreading my having to power wheel it home. We even made our restaurant reservation (local) that evening. Result.
Based on this experience, I cannot recommend uberACCESS -as they now call themselves – highly enough. Way, way better than any of my black cab experiences. Given the choice, I’m uberACCESS all the way.