Helen Dolphin MBE, accessible transport campaigner, parking expert and quadruple amputee writes about her experience of city driving and the benefits of side entry wheelchair accessible vehicles.
“Like many people, I have rarely been out of my house in the last year, so my car has pretty much just sat on my drive. However, as lockdown has eased there are more reasons to get out and about and I am really looking forward to driving again.
The Challenges of Driving
Prior to COVID-19, I drove a lot. Although I live in the countryside I often drove into Norwich, which is my nearest city, and I made regular trips to London, Manchester and Birmingham for work. City driving is very different to driving in the countryside, but both have their challenges. Although I don’t have to worry about muddy roads, horses or tractors in the city, I do have to be prepared for lots of cars, cyclists, pedestrians, buses and one-way streets.
The Sat Nav
I think one of the greatest inventions for making my driving experience less stressful was the Sat Nav. I’m sure many people like me have horrible memories of being completely and utterly lost and no idea where you are on a map. I think my worst experience was being lost in central London in the middle of the night after following diversion signs that suddenly stopped. Thanks to having a Sat Nav, getting lost doesn’t happen anymore. Many higher-spec vehicles now have an integrated Sat Nav.
Parking a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle
Once you’re at your destination, your next challenge is finding somewhere to park. As a Blue Badge holder, I’m able to park in on-street bays reserved for disabled people as well as on double and single yellow lines. However, make sure you don’t park where there is a loading ban as you could end up with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). You can tell if there’s a loading ban as you will see yellow stripes on the kerb.
Side Entry Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
If you have a side entry WAV, you should find on-street parking in towns and cities easy. You won’t need to worry about someone parking too close behind your vehicle blocking you from being able to enter via the tailgate. Ideally, you would have a ramp that opens onto the pavement as this is a much safer option.
Blue Badge Parking Bay
One of the concerns people sometimes have about side entry wheelchair accessible vehicles is that parking in a Blue Badge Parking Bay is too difficult as the ramp is too long. However, having had the pleasure of testing out the Sirus Ford Drive/Upfront, I was amazed that the side ramp is only 70cm. This short ramp is possible because of the lowering suspension which also ensures a smoother ride. This shorter ramp also means you don’t necessarily require a wide driveway to get in and out of your vehicle.
Automated Ramp and Side Sliding Door
It’s also really handy that the ramp and side sliding door are automated so you can open and close via your key fob as you approach the vehicle. This means you can be away in just a few minutes. Depending on where you regularly drive to and your parking situation, in many ways a side entry WAV can actually be easier to park than a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle you enter from the rear and also removes the risk of being blocked in. Whatever you drive, enjoy getting out and about again and have lots of fun”.
Sirus convert three side entry wheelchair accessible vehicles;
Sirus Ford Drive/Upfront – designed to drive or travel upfront as a passenger
Sirus Ford Upfront – travel upfront next to the driver as a passenger
Sirus Ford Internal Transfer – drive and transfer to a standard driver seat
To book a free home demonstration call 0121 505 7777.