Sheffield mum left ‘humiliated’ and ‘crying’ after being denied service by First bus driver over mobility aid
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Sam Cleasby, a mother-of-three, from Woodseats, who last year won a Women of Sheffield award, said she was "discriminated against" by a First Bus driver on Chesterfield Road on Thursday due to her mobility equipment, the Alinker.
The Alinker is a foldable non-motorised walking-bike without pedals and it is widely used by those with mobility issues.
Sharing her experience on Twitter, the Sheffield Hallam University art student said she was left "crying" as the bus driver insisted her device was a bike and therefore could not be allowed on board.
She said: "He said it was a bike. (He) wouldn't believe me that it wasn't and asked for a 'pass'?
"What sort of pass does he think disabled people have?
"I had a sunflower lanyard and my disabled bus pass. That wasn't enough. His attitude was vile."
Sam has ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, in addition to having a stoma.
She stated that she began using an Alinker late last year after previously using a wheelchair.
She added: "Folding bikes are allowed on buses. (Alinker) folds if needed. I just feel humiliated and completely discriminated against.
"It's so hard to get out alone and this makes me feel house bound."
‘I’m so tired’
Sam, who runs a popular blog So Bad Ass, where she talks about her journey living with the disease, said the driver also told her that the space on the bus was for "real disabled people".
Despite the driver's behaviour toward her, she stated that she did not wish for him to be sacked.
She added: "I just want him to have some proper training so this doesn't happen to anyone else. What disability training do your drivers get, @FirstSouthYorks?
"I'm so tired. Life is hard when you have constant chronic pain. It takes so much effort and mental work to just leave the house. Today I feel like never even trying again. So many barriers."
She also shared a picture of her passes and the wheelchair signage on her mobility aid, which she showed to the driver.
"My passes, the wheelchair signage and my telling him I was disabled and this was my mobility aid meant nothing. The bus pass is a disabled person's bus pass that you have to apply for with proof that I get PIP (Personal Independence Payment)," she said.
In response, First South Yorkshire has issued an apology for the incident and initiated an investigation.
Nigel Eggleton, the firm’s managing director, said: ” We are undertaking an investigation into circumstances that have been brought to our attention, relating to a person being refused travel by one of our drivers due to the size and construction of their mobility aid.
"There are many designs, sizes and construction of mobility aids in use, and we offer a free assessment for people to practice accessing a bus safely and ensure the aid does not cause any obstruction to other passengers when travelling.
"I want to apologise for any inconvenience or distress caused with this incident and when we have spoken with the relevant driver involved to discuss the matter, we will respond to the complainant directly with our findings.”