Cycling Championships: Man with disabilities ‘trapped’ at home

Poet Ross Wilcock is concerned about the effects of road closures on people with disabilities.
Poet Ross Wilcock feels trapped at home by the cycling championship.

Residents in West Dunbartonshire are not the only ones with concerns about the World Cycling Championships. A man with disabilities has spoken out about how an international cycling event has left him feeling trapped in his Glasgow home.

Ross Wilcock, who suffers from mobility problems and is visually impaired, said street closures and the temporary relocation of bus stops has made getting around the city too difficult.

The UCI Cycling World Championships runs from 3-13 August.

It includes 200 competitions with more than 8,000 cyclists taking part.

For Ross, however, the disruption caused by turning whole sections of the city’s roads into racing circuits is nothing to celebrate.

“It is making me feel really trapped in my own street and my own house,” he said. “I am getting flashbacks to what is was like under lockdown.”

finish line for the road race in George Square
Streets have been closed and bus stops have been relocated to accommodate road cycling events in Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire.

Ross is a poet and performer whose work often concentrates on the disabilities he has had since birth. His movement is very restricted and he uses a stick but has trouble walking anything other than short distances.

He is visually impaired and struggles to navigate around streets. In order to make his way about the city, he has to learn public transport routes.

Ross also needs easy access to taxis to get anywhere and this is where the cycling event is causing him problems.

“I rely quite heavily on taxis and Ubers and things like that. With the road closures they don’t have access to my street,” he said.

Ross lives in a ground floor flat just off one of the main race routes in the city’s Yorkhill area. This week’s road closures have left him feeling cut off from anywhere but the few streets around his home.

He said: “I rely on a certain bus and I know where it stops. That has been moved. I am now very anxious. I have no idea where to get buses from.

“If you’re dependent on using certain routes you can’t just figure out a new route that quickly.”

Ross is concerned about the effects the closures are having on his mental health.

He said: “I feel very anxious. You could argue that I can go to my local shops and café but I can’t get anywhere else. I can’t get to the city centre, and I can’t get to my parents’ house.

“They also cannot get to me. I rely on them for getting to any appointments. In an emergency they could not get to me and that is concerning for me as someone who relies on help to get to places.”

Ross has also had problems accessing details of the road closures. He had trouble reading the online route maps and does not think the event website is accessible enough.

A spokesperson for Glasgow Life, the body which runs sporting and cultural events for the city council, said they have had a programme of communication events and work underway since March to tell businesses and residents about the event, its impact on the city and how they can plan ahead.

Ross has described on social media how this week’s closures have left him feeling like crying.

He believes these issues are just the latest part of a much wider problem.

He added: “Even without the cycling championships there’s so much inaccessibility in the city. The new cycle routes in cities already make it very difficult. I can’t tell them apart from the pavements and roads.

“The thing is I think this event and the city creating cycle lanes is very good. It is done with good intentions. It’s really important to tackle climate change but that shouldn’t take away from people like me.

“The city motto is ‘People make Glasgow’. That’s a hypocritical motto. It ought to be ‘Able people make Glasgow'”.

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