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wheelchair friendly cities. where are they?

wheelchair friendly cities. where are they?

Old Jun 29th, 2006, 10:44 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,874
I know that it would be very difficult to make some historic sites accessible. But what the heck, what about everything else? This is 2006, not the middle ages!

For those of you in the US who use wheelchairs, or who travel with those who do, has the enactment of the ADA in the US improved your life? Do you find that most businesses are in compliance, and that the ADA standards are sufficient?

I am a real estate lawyer and I went to an ADA seminar when it was first enacted. One of the speakers, who was in a wheelchair, called the rest of us TABs: temporarily able bodied. That stuck with me.
missypie is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2006, 12:04 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 2,497
I may be crazy, but I swear I saw some wheelchair rails at some of the Venice bridges (those metal tracks that sit next to the handrail when not in use). I don't have my pics with me today, but I will definietly take a look - I think one of the tracks showed up in a photo I took. I thought they were a good idea.
Jolie is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2006, 12:08 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 3,227
Jolie, according to the Venice Tourist Board..there are 6 of that rails in all Venice. I just can't recall now how many bridges there are
kenderina is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2006, 12:29 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,190
Missypie - you raise a good question. How difficult would it be to update buildings of historical significance to create a barrier-free environment? We've all traveled in very old (centuries, in fact) buildings which now house restroom facilities. Obviously, the plumbing for these "necessities" were installed far after the building's use. Air-conditioning is in use in historical treasures - how did that come about when the buildings themselves were not initially built to handle wiring, etc. Perhaps it's a matter of priority. I would say bathrooms are a priority since most, if not all, who travel through the doors of any one place utilize those facilities. On the other hand, are the ramps or elevators needed to accommodate a wheelchair are not used by enough to justify their installation? Please don't misunderstand me - a ramp, elevator, wide doors with automatic openers would increase the quality of our lives dramatically. Has the ADA helped? I can't say. We've had some interesting experiences with travel. We rarely travel with DD now. When she was younger, DD & I flew to Chicago every summer for her to attend a camp for those with special needs (Peacock Camp - it has since closed). At the airport, my experience with American Airlines was always extremely positive. They kindly upgraded us to the first row of first class, helped us board really early, couldn't have been nicer. On the other hand, as we passed through security (pre 9/11), I asked for a hand-search of DD (she was seated in her wheelchair), they asked if she couldn't please just walk through the metal detector. I had to laugh!
dorkforcemom is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2006, 12:51 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Venice with wheelchairs is VERY difficult to do.

I spent a week there last year with my (then 12yo)son in a wheelchair (thankfully only temporarily due to an accident) but had I know just how hard it would be I would probably not have taken him. Every single bridge has steps both sides, there are no ramps.

The apartment I had booked was just off Frezzeria, in fact almost next to Locanda Orseolo, so we could get there from the vaporetto at San Marco with no problems. In fact we never had any problems with any vaporetto and used them a lot, including trips to Murano, Burano, and we really got good value from our Venice Cards.

We knew there were lifts over some of the bridges and collected a key to these wheelchair lifts at the airport, but in the entire week never managed to get one of these lifts to work on both sides of a bridge! Due to humidity, apparently... and very time consuming too.

Because my son was very fit before the accident, he was able to get out of his chair and hop up the steps and either wait for us to heave the chair up to the top and wheel him down (back wheels first), or hop down to the bottom and proceed. Taking crutches was also hard as they had to be carried while he was in the chair and we found them cumbersome. He was only able to use the crutches for very short distances, so they were not a viable option.

Getting in and out of churches was also difficult as there are steps into every one I can remember, also the Guggenheim museum. The Accademia also has steps but we didn't go there.

There are walks for disabled travellers in Venice, on Durant Imboden's website, and you can get a map at the airport when you get your key to the lifts, but if the lifts are not working....

We also used the traghetti, with him hopping into the gondola, and me folding and carrying the chair - this was fun too, and we did take a gondola ride one evening, and the chair came too!

It was not an ideal situation and very tiring for all. One time we saw an very elegant gentleman and his equally elegant wife - he was in a wheelchair crossing a bridge and his wheelchair had caterpillar tracks - slow but worked very well! We were most impressed!

However, while Venice is worth visiting once in a lifetime, I think that with mobility issues it needs very careful thought and consideration.

I'm sorry to be negative, but I wish I had known a little more before I took him - we had insurance and could have cancelled but I didn't want to disappoint him, instead of which it marred the trip for the rest of us, and made him feel bad.

However, there are many English towns and cities which are very wheelchair friendly. Not so much London with the Underground, but smaller more rural towns.. From experience I can say that Bath, Cheltenham and Gloucester would not pose any problem.
julia_t is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2006, 01:51 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 5,065
I was in Holland at Keukenhof gardens during the tulip season. That day there were several busloads of handicapped people in wheel chairs. The garden seemed to be very accessable to them.

However, if you were going to stay in a hotel in Amsterdam, you would have to pick one out that had an elevator. I have never seen such steep steps as the ones in the hotel that we stayed in there on the 5th floor- 76 steps so steep that we were on hands and knees for the last ten steps. We went downstairs in the morning and if we had forgotten something , too bad- we didn't go back upstairs until bedtime.
Saraho is offline  
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