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TravelTrekker Aug 16th, 2013 04:53 AM

Recommend Manual Wheelchair Brand?
Would appreciate practical advice regarding brand/model manual wheelchair that works best on European (UK, France, Bruges) streets? We plan to purchase or rent one in the States. Looking for lightweight model with large back wheels and smaller (6"?) front wheels, and one that can handle the cobblestones the best. Have heard of Invancare, Quickie, Driver brands. Advice anyone?

menachem Aug 16th, 2013 05:36 AM

Colours in Motion
Küschall if you can get them

usually there is a distinction between medium active and active wheelchairs. with active wheelchairs, the idea is that no one pushes it, the person using it propels it, medium active wheelchairs have a different geometry. with active wheelchairs there often are no handles that you can use to push.

although you may think that a folding wheelchair may be more convenient, active rigid wheelchairs are easier to manage: the wheels come off with quick releases, and the back rest folds down. that way it can go in the trunk of any taxy, or can go on the back seat, with the wheels off. What's good about rigid wheelchairs is that they're stiffer and lighter, and so are easier to propel. the residential invacare models are impossible to propel without assistance. Whether a wheelchair works well on the street depends on the street, not so much on the wheelchair. If there are lots of levels and steps, a wheelchair will not work as well. Apart from Brugge, where are you going in France and the UK? In Paris, a wheelchair is no problem, though accessibility of public transport is an issue, as it is in London. If you go outside of big cities you may find that accessibility decreases.

menachem Aug 16th, 2013 05:38 AM

try to rent or buy the lightest wheelchair you can find.

TravelTrekker Aug 16th, 2013 07:51 AM

menachem, thank you. We are going to London, Paris for sure. Have talked to very helpful Shopmobility staff in York and researched/emailed with Sage Travel (also very helpful) and will try Edinburgh (yes, all posters, I know it will be very difficult) and will keep it simple. Also contacted wheelchair accessible sightseeing tour in Edinburgh which is doable, Museum of Scotland, Scotch Whisky Experience...we'll see. Husband/daughter will push wheelchair, and I'd like to do what I can to help in museums, etc. Found very good with journey planner too. Would love to relax in a nearby town town not too far from Paris but no clue which towns quaint, accessible--still researching. Wheelchair is just for next 6 weeks. Will stay away from worst-cobblestone streets (such as The Shambles & in Edinburgh). Appreciate all input.

menachem Aug 16th, 2013 08:49 AM

it all depends, I guess, on how much upper body strength you have. Even so, rent or buy the lightest model you can find. The institutional ones are often very heavy. Also weirdly, the smaller diameter the castor wheels at the front, the better it is: large castors make steering difficult, for you and for the person assisting you. Also make sure your back is well supported and invest in a good cushion.

do you have a car available?

TravelTrekker Aug 16th, 2013 11:32 AM

No, menachem, no car but if we get too frustrated with public transportation and too many destinations, we'll rent one for part of the trip. Would rent a car if we decide to stay longer in France after Paris rather than head to Bruges and then Amsterdam. I don't know how tired my husband will be with all the train segments, pushing me, and luggage (although am arranging for help at the stations). Do you think 6" front wheels are too large? I've heard that 4" are perhaps better but we haven't yet gone out to see what there is. We'll look tomorrow.

menachem Aug 16th, 2013 01:02 PM

I think 4'' wheels will shimmy far less than 6'' ones. Also make sure the seat fits you. If you slide sideways, you'll use more energy to sit up, also, narrower is better with wheelchairs.

I would suggest to rent a car at least for some stretches. It'll make daytrips a possibility instead of a minor expedition.

In London and Paris, buses are generally the more accessible option (black cabs too, in London), while in Amsterdam most of the tram system is accessible (that is if it is the right kind of tram, you may have to let some pass until a level floored one turns up)

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