EPLC Pocklington – Hull – Scunthorpe – Lincoln – rest day: ‘Empathy’
During the stay at our hotel in Lincoln, an episode occurred that perfectly underscores many of the reasons why some disabled people still feel excluded from mainstream society and why they think that there is still some distance to go until genuine inclusiveness is achieved – a lack of true empathy.
Our hotel informed us there would be a daily charge for parking. This seemed to me unreasonable. So, I asked the receptionist what alternative there might be for someone in my situation to stay at this hotel (since I couldn’t leave the car in a public parking space and then walk here). She was stuck for an answer and mumbled something about this being company policy.
This attitude is one that I come across almost daily. It is one of my main sources of heartache and frustration – and I’m sure for many other disabled people. Whether it be the waiter that shows us to a table through a crowd of other diners and chairs, or the parking attendant who writes out a ticket for going five minutes over on the metre, because of no drop curb to get to the car on time, or the disabled seats at the local cinema being the worst ones in the house, in row 1, disabled people’s experiences tend to be tainted by a lack of empathy.
I’m not in any way advocating that disabled people should receive special treatment, however there are unquestionably many things that disabled people are unable to do – in an ideal world, everyone would have a sufficiently empathetic point of view to make certain experiences less irksome.
Day 20 of our ride took us from Pocklington into the East Riding of Yorkshire and the City of Hull. In complete contrast to the hotel experience we were about to receive in Lincoln, our hotel in Hull (the Ramada Jarvis) could not have been more helpful during our stay. We were waved off early from here, in the direction of Scunthorpe, by the Lord Mayor of Hull. We were up against a deadline – we had to meet two other trike riders (Eric and Steve) just before the Humber Bridge. Riding with trike riders was a relaxing experience – firstly, Eric and Steve were slower paced and secondly, we knew we weren’t going to be confronted with any thorny cycle barriers I couldn’t get through.
These two stayed with us until we rendezvoused with Alan Rayment – Paralympic triathlete and celebrity around Scunthorpe. He had gone out of his way to create a “500-mile-so-far” endline for the journey. The City’s Deputy Mayor and local press were there. After chat, tea and cakes, we drove on to our hotel in Lincoln.
The next day, we drove back towards Scunthorpe to begin the leg to Lincoln. In Scunthorpe we met up with John Nicholson, of the Lincoln Wheelers, and his trike. John had gone to immense trouble to help plan our routes to and from Lincoln. On his trike, he steered us safely through the outskirts of Lincoln before arriving at the Cathedral and then our hotel.
We could lie in the next morning because this was a much needed “rest” day. I say rest but actually we did have one thing to do today. This was to meet with the Mayor and press in the old town centre, at his Chambers. John also came with other Lincoln Wheelers.
One of the Lincoln Wheelers is Alan Tibble, a blind cyclist who will ride the leg to Grantham with us tomorrow on a tandem trike with John Nicholson. They will be joined by other members of the club.