In 2012, eight out of ten London tourist sites will be inaccessible to people who can’t use stairs. So reckon the Liberal Democrats in the London Assembly. Their Olympic spokesperson, Dee Doocey, told the BBC:
Disabled athletes and visitors to the Games travelling on the Javelin trains from Stratford to St Pancras will not be able to continue their journey into central London to visit the capital's top attractions because most of the Tube stations either have steps or escalators. They won't even be able to use Piccadilly or Oxford Circus.
And, ironically, Trafalgar Square with its limb-limited statues of Nelson and Alison Lapper is also poorly served by stair-free stations.
Until recently, the only wheelchair access to the Circle Line was at Westminster. To paraphrase an old Paul Merton gag: what was the point – where would you go? Luckily, Kings Cross and Monument stations now offer disabled access (though the Monument itself might be a tricky proposition).
London Underground challenges the report, saying that a quarter of all stations will be accessible to all by 2012. Even with the current level of accessibility, it is possible to travel from St Pancras to Greenwich, Earls Court, Westminster, Southwark and many other places (Upminster, anyone?) without encountering stairs. The Lib Dems are also being somewhat disingenuous by implying that the Tube is the only means of getting about town. But of course, there’s still much, much more that could be done to help.
Image taken from Lone Black Rider’s Flickr photostream.