City of York Council has said it “totally got it wrong” by commissioning and releasing a video to promote active travel that features no visibly disabled people.
Campaigners have described the two-minute video, which features a York busker singing in front of the Minster overlaid with shots of people walking, cycling and taking the bus, as “ableist”.
The video was part of a wider campaign which encouraged residents to “incorporate more active and sustainable travel into their everyday, as the days get brighter and warmer”. It cost the council £24,000 in total.
The video was released just four months after the council made the controversial decision to ban blue badge holders from parking in the city’s footstreets area.
Disability rights campaigner Flick Williams said the video “omitted to show any visibly disabled people.
“Not wheeling, not walking with assistance dogs, nor boarding a bus via the ramp,” she added.
“Then they accompany it with the lyrics ‘you have your whole life ahead of you’ and ‘don’t feel so old’ while failing to include anybody visibly over 40.”
The video does feature a brief shot of an older person on a bike.
Ms Williams added: “I do hope you are happy with the £24,000 budget for that. Your report heralds it as sophisticated messaging – really? All it has done is tell disabled people their movement doesn’t matter to you.
“Complaints about it did not see it removed, and so one can only conclude this authority is proud of the ableism and ageism it trumpets and is happy with its vision of a city socially cleansed of all disabled and older people.”
The video remains on the council’s YouTube page.
Responding to the criticism in a transport decision session on Tuesday, iTravel programme manager Duncan McIntyre said: “We totally got it wrong – so hands up on that.
“We don’t know how we missed it, but clearly there’s an issue, perhaps with how we perceive travel and it was particularly disappointing because we’ve done so many other things in our programme in this area.”
Mr McIntyre said the council had produced a braille walk for York Walking Festival, that adapted bikes were available for people with disabilities and that cycle route videos did feature adapted cycles.
“We’ve done quite a lot in the last year, so to miss this is really disappointing. But we don’t want to say there was some excuse,” he added. “There’s no excuse really.”
Executive member for transport, Coun Andy D’Agorne, said the council needed to do more work in promoting active travel options for disabled and older people in York.
“We do need to raise awareness and make sure that whatever we produce is as inclusive as possible,” he added.