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Letters Pedestrianisation excludes the disabled

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The Architects' Journal welcomes your letters, which should preferably be typed double-spaced. Please address them to the editor at 151 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4GB, fax them on 0171 505 6701, or e-mail them to Victorian@construct.emap.co.uk to arrive

I am grateful to Noel Wurr (aj 12/19.7.99) for her letter to you which has, in part, said some of the things I have been intending to write to you about for some time, but have only now been galvanised into action.

As a disabled architect myself (with multiple sclerosis) not yet forced to use a wheelchair, I am forever pointing out to colleagues that when they refer to 'disabled', they usually mean 'wheelchair users'. Those of us who rely on walking sticks to get about often have a tougher time than those in wheelchairs. I can't walk anywhere near as far as an electric wheelchair could take me.

Without my car, I cannot get anywhere, which means vast tracts of London are out of bounds for me (eg most of the City of London; Covent Garden; Soho - all of which are mostly yellow lines, even if I did have one of the special permits that Ms Wurr refers to). Most people think that when you get an Orange Badge, you can park anywhere. Would that this were true. How else are we to get to work? Taxi? The cost to me would be £30 per day. (and taxi cards are limited to 10 uses per month).

Glenda Jackson wants all buses to be wheelchair accessible. How do they get to the bus stop? I resent disabled drivers being included in the demonisation of car users. My car is not a luxury; it is a necessity. I do not choose to use my car: I would much rather cycle as I used to, but my disability does not allow this. My disability would not stop me working, only my ability to continue to get to work.

Now that Westminster council has decided to pedestrianise most of Soho, it is effectively banning disabled people from this area, even by taxi. Pedestrianisation equals able-bodied-ism. I sincerely hope that no newly disabled victim of the Soho bombing would wish to return to the Admiral Duncan, as Old Compton Street is now pedestrian only.

All we ask is that we are given as equal opportunity to use all buildings and cities as the able-bodied and to be economically active - something Jo Robotham seems to resent. Remember this when your wife gets pregnant, you break a leg, or when your parents grow infirm.

Most people are disabled for some period of their lives: some of us don't have the chance to 'get over it'. And I will not even bother to comment on Terry Farrell's letter and his laughable suggestion that we strap ourselves into something out of Star Wars, so that he can avoid the nuisance of designing buildings for all his buildings' users. Moreover, I really do hope he never suffers a serious accident or a crippling disease.

Finally I wish to reiterate Ms Wurr's point that there is absolutely no point making buildings accessible if we cannot get to them, and no logic in making buses accessible as we cannot get to the bus stop. Apart from the politically-correct pr, of course.

Roy Mittens, London N8

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