Rolling Around London
Europe may be a continent rich in beautiful architecture, iconic landmarks, and delectable foods, but when wheelchair users think of Europe some of the only words that come to mind are “cobblestone streets” and “inaccessibility”.
Exploring some European cities in a wheelchair is almost impossible, but London, England is a completely different experience. London truly turns the word “handicapped” into “handicapABLE” and reigns supreme as Europe’s most accessible destination.
Getting Around Town
Whenever I’m going to a new city, the first thing that I Google is whether or not there is wheelchair accessible transportation and if it is easily available.
There’s nothing worse than arriving to a beautifully exotic oasis and having to wait over three hours for an accessible taxi. Trust me, I know from experience. However, in London there is no extra waiting! It’s as easy to get an accessible taxi as a regular taxi because ALL cabs are accessible. Yes, I said all. I couldn’t believe it either.
London’s famous black cabs all have a foldout ramp so that the wheelchair can just roll right in from the sidewalk. You will have to stay parked sideways throughout the ride since there isn’t enough space inside the cab to turn around, but it’s no huge deal (or at least it wasn’t to me). The only downside to the black cabs is the fact that they can be quite costly, especially if you are taking them all over the city all day, but London’s underground Tube is not very wheelchair friendly so the cabs are really the only option for accessible transportation. Plan to spend around 50 £ per day on cabs. I considered that a small price to pay for being able to go somewhere exactly when I wanted to go.
Seeing the Sights
London has many notable sights and attractions, and luckily the majority of them are wheelchair accessible. My favorite attraction was the London Eye. It is a colossal ferris wheel that is composed of 32 capsules. Each capsule can hold up to 25 people, but for wheelchair users they generally put less people inside so that there is plenty of room to roll around. The journey in the Eye offers the best views that London has to offer, with noteworthy sights including Big Ben and the River Thames. It is a breathtaking experience that should not be missed in London.
Another favorite London attraction of mine was Westminster Abbey. Many old cathedrals in Europe are not accessible to even get inside, but Westminster Abbey is. Some areas inside are unavoidably inaccessible, but to make up for this the Abbey offers free admission to wheelchair users and for the people with them. The main floor area is accessible however, and it is stunningly beautiful. You may find yourself marveling at the impressive Gothic architecture longer than expected.
About the Author: Cory is the founder of Curb Free with Cory Lee, a travel blog devoted to sharing the world from a wheelchair user’s perspective. Aside from blogging, he is also a full time college student and father of four (dogs). He aims to inspire others, both disabled and non-disabled alike, to get out of their comfort zone and see all of the beauty that the world has to offer. Follow Cory’s adventures on Facebook and Twitter.