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Disabled man prevented from getting on Cambridge bus with folding bike

Bus company says folders whould be in a case - but adds that common sense should prevail

A man suffering from cerebral palsy was prevented from getting on a Stagecoach bus in Cambridge because the folding bike he uses to get around was not in a bag.

Paul Norman, who lives near Sudbury in Suffolk, had been visiting the Strawberry Fair in Cambridge with his fiancée and daughter on June 4, reports Cambridge News.

He had encountered no problem that morning when he took the bus into Cambridge from Bury St Edmunds carrying his bicycle, which he needs to get around since he has severe difficulties standing and walking.

On the way home, however, it was a different matter, with problems starting as he waited for the 6.15pm bus.

“Upon queuing I was approached by the manager of Stagecoach Cambridge,” Mr Norman explained.

“He refused to give me his name, and told me quite aggressively I would not be permitted to board the bus with the bicycle out of a bag.

“This was the last bus of the day and I did not have the money for any other means. I hold a disabled person’s bus pass which I would have used as fare.”

Mr Norman said that the experience had left him “embarrassed and ashamed.” He was only able to return home after friends drove 30 miles into Cambridge to pick him up.

Even once he knew they were on their way, his ordeal wasn’t over, however.

“As they are not familiar with Cambridge I had to walk to a well-known location maybe a three-mile walk from the bus station,” he continued.

“This caused me much pain and by the time I got home my foot had swollen and was black and blue from the rubbing of the leg brace I wear.”

It wasn’t reported why Mr Norman hadn’t used his bike for that trip, but he said that the episode had been “one of the most unpleasant, emotionally disturbing, truly physically painful experiences” he had gone through
Christina Ratcliffe, operations manager at Stagecoach East, apologised to Mr Norman in an email, saying: “Stagecoach set high standards for our staff both in the conduct of their duties and their attitude to our customers.

“It would appear, however, that the individual you refer to failed to meet these standards and appropriate action will be taken to ensure there is no repetition.”

She said that the company required folding bikes to be put in a carrying case, although Mr Norman maintains that isn’t made clear.

Ms Ratcliffe added that “common sense” should be exercised and problems dealt with “without aggression”.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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mad_scot_rider | 12 years ago

This has got to be one of the biggest bugbears for getting people out of their cars (after road safety of course) - joined up transport policies.

Such a thing was at least possible (although didn't happen) when the buses and trains were owned by the government - but now that they're privatised the only way to ensure some form of provision is by regulation - which of course would start an outcry from the companies involved.

I've frequently been impressed by the buses in some areas of the US which have external bike racks fitted - though god knows how they got round the safety nannies.

Velo_Alex | 12 years ago

I was on a Stagecoach Oxford bus recently and a gentleman tried to board the bus with a full sized bike (not that it matters but it was an old Dawes hybrid). He'd got a flat, all the bike shops were closed and he had no way of getting the bike home.

The driver refused to let him on board with the bike and eventually the Cyclist demanded that the driver contact a supervisor for a decision. The response was exactly what we wanted to hear: "If there's room on the bus and it can be placed securely in the pushchair bay then we don't have a problem with it". The driver was not happy.

Strangely enough we have a large number of commuters who carry Bromptons on Stagecoach Oxford buses and I've never seen a driver that has a problem with it.

NorthernRouleur | 12 years ago

Idiots... the lot of them.
Imagine if your folding bicycle were perhaps a folding push-chair for a toddler, which incidentally take up MORE space in the luggage racks.

Are they required to put those in bags?

Imagine the uproar if they were!

Municipal Waste | 12 years ago

I once asked Brighton & Hove buses what their view would be if I wanted to take a folding bike on the bus.

They said that as long as it was folded and could fit in the luggage compartment without falling or obstructing other people from using it then no problems.

So I told my friend and the first time he tried to do it the driver wouldn't let him on  26

a.jumper | 12 years ago

one of the biggest deterrents to cyclists cycling more is the confusing, varied and unclear rules for mass transport carriage of cycles if you get tired, fall ill or have an unrepairable-at-roadside problem.

OldRidgeback | 12 years ago

"It's more than my job's worth..."

Sadly dimwits of this sort seem to exist in all walks of life and all over the world. They are often small-minded, unintelligent idiots with an inferiority complex, which is why they seem to enjoy using the miniscule power they have to humiliate or embarass normal people.

JonMack | 12 years ago

Sounds like the oh so typical abuse of power I see weekly on my commute into work via train. These people are shit munchers doing typical mindless shit muncher jobs who get their kicks by hassling those who they consider to be a "lesser" being.

Last week, I saw a ticket inspector literally run through a packed station after a woman to check her ticket, which she had JUST used to proceed through the ticket barriers that were in place at the station, I've also heard stories of ticket inspectors throwing my friends off of empty trains because their pre-booked ticket was for the train an hour later than the one they were on, despite the fact there were plenty of seats available. A couple of weeks ago I was sat on my bike rolling it along at walking pace, not even pedalling, and when I was about a metre away from the exit, despite the closest person to me being half way up the overpass-bridge, I was asked to get off my bike, to which I replied "I'm just about to leave" and carried on my way. I can't be bothered to follow the rules which are set such as "no cycling on the platform" (which leads directly to a cycle path) when common sense prevails.

BigDummy | 12 years ago

This is pretty close to the definition of "prick", isn't it? What a shower.

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