The City of York Council said it was “totally wrong” in ordering and releasing a video to promote active travel that does not feature people who are visibly disabled.
Activists described the two-minute video, which shows a York street performer singing in front of the Minster, overlaid with pictures of people walking, cycling and taking the bus, as “capable”.
The video was part of a wider campaign that encouraged residents to “incorporate more active and sustainable travel into their daily lives as the days get brighter and warmer”. It cost the board £24,000 in total.
The video came just four months after the council made the controversial decision to ban blue badge holders from parking in the city’s pedestrian zone.
Disability rights activist Flick Williams said the video “omitted to show anyone visibly disabled.
“No wheeling, no walking assistance dogs, no boarding a bus down the ramp,” he added. “Then they follow it up with the lyrics ‘you’ve got your whole life ahead of you’ and ‘don’t feel so old’ while not including anyone visibly over 40.”
The video features a brief scene of an older person on a bicycle.
Williams added: “I hope you are happy with the £24,000 budget for this. Your report advertises this as fancy messages – really? All it did was tell people with disabilities that their movement doesn’t matter to you.
“Complaints about this have not been removed and so we can only conclude that this authority is proud of the ableism and age it trumpets and is happy with its vision of a socially clean city of all the disabled and elderly.”
The video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqBLbTHrKpM&t=7s) remains on the municipality’s Youtube page.
Responding to the criticism at a transportation decision session on Tuesday, iTravel program manager Duncan McIntyre said: “We totally got it wrong – so let’s get down to business.
“We don’t know how we lost, but clearly there’s a problem, perhaps with how we perceive travel and it was particularly disappointing because we’ve done a lot of other things in our program in that area.”
McIntyre said the board produced a braille walk for the York Walking Festival, that adapted bicycles were available for people with disabilities and that videos of cycle paths featured adapted bicycles.
“We did a lot last year, so losing that is really disappointing. But we don’t want to say that there was any excuse,” she added. “Actually, there is no excuse.”
Transport Executive Member Cllr Andy D’Agorne said the board needed to do more work on promoting active travel options for the disabled and seniors in York.
“We need to raise awareness and ensure that everything we produce is as inclusive as possible,” he added.