It only hit me just now how the black (and slightly dark grey) cabs that are synonymous with London culture are somehow like their very own unique version of the Batmobile…to me anyway. Why? I guess it’s because, to me, it embodies everything that is significant with the caped crusader’s armored vehicle. Like the Batmobile, London cabs have proven to be worthwhile companions and heroes time and time again, especially for the disabled community.
On a number of visits to London I’ve had the pleasure of riding in a London cab, and every time, I’ve been in awe of the service and accessibility behind it all. Imagine my surprise the first time I got into a hackney carriage, or as they are more commonly referred to, “black cabs.” At first contact, they appear spacious and compact, with a driver usually very keen to see how he can assist. As I was wondering how I’d get in and whether I’d need to fold the wheelchair first, the driver instantly pulled out a small metal ramp from the interior of the side and swiftly wheeled me inside the cab, all before you could say, “holy buckets batman!”. “Hang on to the yellow bar on the side there, love,” he gingerly advised, as my friend sat down on the seat adjacent to me.
I remember thinking how incredibly easy and comforting that experience was, and every time I remember it, I smile. I smile because I’m grateful that somehow, someone took the moment to think about this…to really think about the consumer (and all our different needs). As we passed by the streets of London that night in our “carriage” I was reminded of just how thoughtful and accommodating the city of London is overall towards the disabled community. Not only were they accommodating, but they radiated a sense of empathy and patience that so far have been unparalleled in other cities.
Every public building from theaters to restaurants to museums and bars: the majority of them offer an accessible entrance(whether from main or side doors). Those that don’t, are quick to offer an alternative with portable metal or plastic ramps that can just as easily get the job done. Comfort and ease are clearly at the top of their list and I was always thankful for that. Accessible cabs were just the icing on the cake that made for a fun and spontaneous tour of the city. I highly recommend it for those traveling with strollers or wheelchairs. These cabs are pretty much on every corner throughout the city, but can also be booked online or by telephone. If traveling with a wheelchair user, they seat 3 people comfortably.
So the next time you’re in London, and looking for a heroic mode of transportation with a little bit of class, try the Batmob–er.. I mean the black cabs. Make the trip just a little more easy. 🙂