Dominic Lund-Conlon lies about TriRides on trains

A sporty manual wheelchiar which has a TriRide motorised extra wheel attached to its front.This is a TriRide, a popular motorised electronic addition to a manual wheelchair. It is good for off-roading and long distances. (I want one!)
Dominic Lund-Conlon, a white man with black hair and wearing a pink shirt, a tie and a dark waistcoat on Victoria Embankment with the London Eye behind him.This is Dominic Lund-Conlon, Accessibility and Inclusion Manager at Rail Delivery Group (RDG). Has a history of unsupportable pronouncements on rail accessibility, and a reputation for undermining disability rights and campaigners (particularly younger / female campaigners.)

On a TriRide Facebook group, a TriRide rider recently recounted station staff challenging her for using her TriRide on a train. Staff told her she “needs to book a bike space for it.

This sounds very similar to this situation, for which ScotRail apologised.

Our Dom gave our Facebook group a “helpful”, authoritative answer.

Screenshot of a Facebook comment. Dominic Lund-Conlon said: 'You are techincally riding an e bike, so you have to be able to remove it so that you become a wheelchair user again. The best comparison is that it's like a Brompton, when you're onboard it's folded down.'

I challenged:

Dominic Lund-Conlon it doesn’t. There’s no legal definition of an e-bike, just as there’s no legal differentiation between a mobility scooter and an electric wheelchair. As usual the rail industry, especially Rail Delivery Group, are behind the times on such. Incorrectly giving unsubstantiated supposed “definitions” of Tri-Ride as being an “e-bike” is unhelpful. I do hope that you are not giving such incorrect advice / get-outs to train operating companies, in your role of accessibility manager at RDG.

To which he replied:

Screenshot of a Facebook comment: 'Doug Paulley my apologies Doug, it was how it was explained to me by the DfT. I will go back to them and ask for further clarity.'

He never did get back to us though, so I thought I would seek the requisite “further clarity” by means of my own Freedom of Information request to the Department for Transport (DfT).

Their response reveals:

1. The DfT has no record of communication with Our Dom or RDG on the issue.

Copies of communications to/from DLC and/or RDG on classification of such items, including the explanation that such were to be treated as e-bikes.
I can confirm that the Department does not hold the information that you have requested.

2. E-bikes must have pedals.

The Department’s definition of an e-bike is as set out in the Electronically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983 (as amended in 2015). In summary, an e-bike must comply with the following requirements:

  • cycle must be fitted with pedals that are capable of propelling it;
  • maximum continuous rated power of the electric motor must not exceed 250 watts;
    and
  • electrical assistance must cut-off when the vehicle reaches 15.5 mph.

If an e-bike complies with these Regulations in full it can legally be used on the road. Further information on the legal definition of an e-cycle is available on the Government website.

A sporty manual wheelchiar which has a TriRide motorised extra wheel attached to its front.
Let’s play a game of “spot the pedals on the TriRide”…

3. In UK rail, there’s no definition of a wheelchair or mobility device.

The Department, with regard to rolling stock, the PRM-National Technical Specification Notices, does not provide ‘a formal definition of a wheelchair / electric wheelchair and mobility device’ but deals with the size of the wheelchair space, the maximum engineering limits for a wheelchair transportable by train and also the environment around the space to comply with the regulations.

4. There’s no DfT guidance on TriRides on trains.

Any statement and guidance on the use of triride and other manual wheelchair electrical mobility assistance add-ons on train services….
The Department does not hold this information.

A tricky subject

The question of whether a TriRide forms part of a wheelchair, whether it is a bike, a mobility scooter, or something else, is tickly and important to disabled people – as demonstrated by the TriRide users being challenged when attempting to travel on trains.

I have my own opinions (that they are part of a wheelchair and should be allowed on with the same rights as any other wheelchair user) but that’s all they are: opinions, and nothing “official”.

Dominic Lund-Conlon’s irresponsible and inaccurate public pronouncements

Our Dom, however, is once again giving out insupportable and demonstrably inaccurate pronouncements on such, with the backing of his position at Rail Delivery Group and supposedly based on what he has been told by the Department for Transport.

Our Dom’s action is like a bull in a china shop. It is irresponsible, unprofessional and counter to disabled people’s rights. It is the last thing disabled people need.

He has a history of such behaviour. Presumably this is why he stopped tweeting and deleted a load of his tweets. (Scuttlebutt is that his employer instructed him to do so.)

What is Dominic saying behind the scenes?

I would say that Our Dom should stop making public pronouncements on such matters, a sentiment with which his employer doubtless agrees. But if he does stop, that creates a problem. We will have even less idea of what he’s saying behind the scenes. Sadly, despite his unsupported and unelected position, what he says likely has some weight (at least with people who haven’t seen through him) as a result of his position as RDG’s Accessibility and Inclusion Manager.

Is he telling Train Operating Companies that wheelchairs with TriRides attached are “e-bikes” and can thus be refused on trains?

I have no reason to assume that his private pronouncements are any more accurate, substantiable, and rights-upholding than his public ones. Evidence would suggest otherwise—e.g., in his particularly cripple-kicking emails to train operating companies (in which he instructed companies to cancel every disabled person’s assistance bookings across the country for a 24-hour period during which trains continued to run.)

We also know that despite RDG’s claimed commitment to transparency, RDG actively resist attempts to reveal what they and Dominic are saying and doing in the name of accessibility.

This secrecy is problematic – especially given that what he does occasionally reveal is both so inaccurate and counter to disabled people’s interests.

A dangerous snake-in-the-grass.

As I wrote previously,

It is widely thought that RDG, and particularly Dominic Lund-Conlon, are active impediments to access for disabled people to rail transport. Neither represent disabled passengers, or even their operating company members; and it is time that both went.

and

Some disabled people think Dom is a misogynist and a bully. I think he is a two-faced yes-man, touting his ableist industry and employer’s self-congratulatory back-slapping whilst failing to deliver disabled passenger’s rights (e.g. the supposedly-all-singing-all-dancing Passenger Assist app). In my opinion, he also engages in gaslighting and undermining other disabled passengers’ voices. I think that far from my blog post “striking at the heart of our client’s professional reputation”, it actually endorses much of the disabled community’s view of him, more like.

This

has affirmed my opinion (shared by many) that both he and RDG should JUST GO, as the self-important, bullying, non-delivering, ableist apologists and liabilities to disabled people they are.

He doesn’t represent either disabled people or the train operating companies RDG claims to represent (whose accessibility initiatives and concerns about RDG’s accessibility end up sabotaged and bullied out of existence).

He should JUST GO.