Nov 16th, 2020 (edited)
- XXX ADDRESS
- Dear YYY,
- Re: Letter before Action for Disability Discrimination
- <Paragraph about me and my disability>
- On DATE I went for an extended ride. I wanted to ride on an off-road route, taking advantage of the YYY ROUTE. I followed this route across Little Hob Moor and under the railway bridge where a complex metal structure was in place, barring the entrance to Hob Moor (at the approximate location (53.947091, -1.108217). Whilst I was aware of this structure, I had not previously tried it with my relatively new cycle with stabilisers fitted. I note
- • the primary cycle way is protected by a cattle grid, a standard K frame barrier and a footplate of custom design. I can easily negotiate a cattle grid, a standard K frame can be difficult but I can successfully use, but the custom-made footplate is impassable by my cycle.
- o Firstly, the spacing of the raised area may cause the stabilisers to jam.
- o Secondly, the differential height between the central area and the outer area would result in loading of the stabilisers that may damage the cycle and would lift the drive wheel off the ground so it would no longer be possible to use the cycle to power over it.
- o Thirdly, the confined space would make it impossible for me to move the cycle through in any other way.
- • a radar key bypass gate is advertised, and whilst I had a radar key with me, I was not able to use the radar bypass as I cannot access the gate lock whilst remaining mounted.
- • whilst I did not attempt this, I don’t believe, even if I had succeeded in opening the gate, I would be able to move my cycle through the gate either mounted or dismounted.
- In summary I was unable to access this cycle route and location independently. I assert that this is an act of discrimination. The barrier in this location of unique design makes it impossible for me to access a large section of off-road cycle route and a public site of high amenity value. The barrier has a disproportionate impact on those with a disability and you have failed to provide a reasonable adjustment to allow independent access. The reasonable change I expect is the removal of the footplate and clear assessment of the impact of any new configuration has on access, noting the enhanced and clear provision that forms part of recently published government policy, Gear Change, and its accompanying guidance, LTN 1/20. This may involve further measures so the gate achieves its desired objective.
- I enquired as to further details of the design specification via a Freedom of information request (REF) but was not provided with either a design specification (marked as “not-applicable” in the response) for the in-house designed footplate nor an equality impact assessment for it (even though the DDA (2005) would appear to have applied when the footplate was originally installed in 2007). The response claimed that consultation was made prior to installation but did not provide evidence of the result of this consultation. I also note that whilst there was reference to the situation being addressed in the future, no timescale was provided nor was any community group explicitly mentioned.
- The inability to access safe cycling infrastructure independently greatly limits my ability to safely exercise. It is impossible for me to speculate on exactly the impact this has on my condition – MS is a notoriously variable condition – but it is clear that by restricting my independence this has a negative impact on my wellbeing. More serious is the effect of these barriers is to exclude me from a large area which hosts important safe cycle routes, including the signposted orbital route, and has high amenity and historical value.
- The effect of this exclusion makes me angry and has notable negative impact on my confidence to have an independent life, with downstream impacts on my mental health.
- Please indicate safe receipt of this Letter before Action. Please respond to it in full within 14 calendar days – that is, by DATE+14 – otherwise I intend to issue in Court for a declaration, an injunction and damages for injuries to feelings.
- To avoid legal action, you would have to provide the equivalent I would be entitled to in Court. That would include an open acknowledgement that you have discriminated against me, a legal undertaking to ensure this does not happen to me again including a clear and enforceable timescale by which you will rectify the situation at this barrier and of other similar barriers around this site and compensation equivalent to damages for injuries to feelings commensurate with the precedents set by Vento and amended by Da’Bell.
- Yours faithfully,
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