Saturday, May 9, 2009

Passengers Join Bus Driver Strike Rally

Sunday, May 2, 2009

We had our rally in front of City Hall at 2 pm then the Labour Federation and the bus drivers left. Catherine, an advocate from Ottawa, and two of us wheelchair users remained sitting in front of City Hall at the cross walk to chat. Well, the next thing you know, a cop showed up. He said someone called into complain. When I asked how long ago the call was called in, it turned out it likely came in when the Union and the bus drivers were there. We were walking back and forth across the road slowly to slow down and delay traffic.

Well, this part was good. It meant we were seen.... even if it did mean being reported to the cops. The cop told us not to worry then left.

Well, a minute later, one of the wheelchair users looked down and discovered he had a flat tire. The policeman was parked just down the hill on the wharf behind the Holiday Inn so I went down and asked for his help. Normally I would call Access Bus or years ago, the Access Taxi, but obviously this was not an option at this time. The policeman called the office to ask for an air compressor but, when no one showed up, I offered the use of my tire pump. A guy on a motorcycle did the honours of pumping up the flat tire. When it was full, he took off for home (about 1 km away). He made it as far as Food Basics (half way) and the tire was done. He was down the rim and couldn’t move. He was sitting on the road in front of Food Basics. The tire was punctured by a staple from a sign being carried by one of the striking bus drivers. Is that an irony or what?

At Food Basics, the policeman borrowed my pump and tried to pump up the tire again, but it wouldn't work. The other person, who uses a wheelchair and was with us, managed to borrow a compressor from someone at the K-Rock Centre, but still it was of no use. It got the tire inflated enough for him to get across the road, but then he was back on the rim.

The policeman wasn't sure what else he could do so I phoned Motion Specialties, his medical supplier. After 2 calls we connected and they said they would came to the rescue. When the policeman knew help was on the way he left and my friend and I were left protecting our stranded comrade who was stuck partially blocking the driveway of Food Basics. We sat there holding our signs in an attempt to continue raising awareness. Approximately 2 hours after we first discovered the flat Motion Specialties arrived to fix the flat tire. The repair will cost ODSP double because it was an emergency repair, but there was no other choice. Without the Access Bus there was no way for him to get home to wait for the repair to be done during normal business hours.

The good news is we got lots of looks from the public. Especially when, for a good half hour, the policeman had his car parked with the lights flashing to protect the wheelchair stranded on the side of the road.

We made a strong point of showing our signs, my friend took lots of pictures, and we asked anyone who would listen to call their city councillor to lend their support. We also called every media outlet we could find a phone number for, but no one called us back.

I used one of our placards to introduce this blog.

Well, all's well that ends well. The flat was fixed and Kingstonians got a real life example of Access Bus is a vital service to get restored as quickly as possible.

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