- 1 Best Wheelchair Friendly Cities In The United States
- 2 What Makes A City Wheelchair Friendly?
- 3 Which City Is Not Wheelchair Accessible?
There are a lot of beautiful cities in the United States that are perfect for students, young adults, tourists, foreign business executives, companies, and even criminals, but there are only a handful of cities in the USA that are actually wheelchair friendly.
Just in case you don’t know what a wheelchair–friendly city is, a wheelchair-friendly city or wheelchair accessibly city is an environment that has structures and facilities that meet the needs of disabled people and people that rely on wheelchairs or scooters for mobility.
These cities allow wheelchair users to move around or travel without stress.
In this article, we hope to reveal some of the most accessible cities for wheelchair users in the United States.
Yea, since I enjoy traveling, I can boldly tell you I’ve done the works and triple checked the facts to ensure that every detail on this page is accurate.
Best Wheelchair Friendly Cities In The United States
To be wheelchair friendly in a simple term is simply environments that allow or properly cater to the needs of the wheelchair users.
There are a lot of factors that go into play when considering a wheelchair accessible city.
These places come with a lot of perks like ramps or easy to access in public and private buildings, parking space for the disabled, wheelchair-accessible cabs and taxis, and well-paved roads.
After months of quantitative research, we found out that these cities are overall the most accessible cities for disabled people in the United States of America.
1. Washington, DC
Washington DC stands as the most accessible city in the USA for both wheelchair users and people with other physical disabilities. The nation’s capital sets a high standard in the word accessibility and lays down a perfect example for the rest of the world.
The sidewalks are wide enough to accommodate three wheelchair users with ease, and the transport system is top-notch. Washington DC has the best wheelchair accessible transportation systems in the world.
No matter the route you choose to travel, the state ensures that you enjoy a very comfortable trip in your wheelchair whether you are traveling by air, bus, train, or boat. How great is that?
Plus there are a lot of affordable apartments close to the city center and other urban areas. If you don’t like the apartment, I bet you will find a better one. Best of all, most of the apartments and accommodation in Washington have also be adapted to suit wheelchair users.
I think the city of Washington is the best place to live in the United States as a wheelchair user. Even if you don’t plan on staying long, there are several accessible restaurants, malls, parks, and restrooms in the city.
2. Los Angeles, California
Aside from having one of the most beautiful weather, Los Angeles is one of the most accessible cities in the USA for disabled people that rely on wheelchairs and scooters for mobility.
LA has a lot to offer in terms of accessibility and standard of living. The standard of living here is just above average and there are lots of wheelchair-friendly parks, stadiums, and neighborhoods across the city.
You can easily get around in the city, even if you’re stuck in a wheelchair. Every metro rail station in LA is wheelchair friendly, you can enter and exit trains on your own.
Most trains come with handrails and restraints for wheelchair users to hold on to when the vehicle is in motion.
Metro buses and taxis in LA also come with an automatic lift. If you are not comfortable with public transport, there are lots of agencies and companies that have perfectly working wheelchair adapted vehicles for rent.
3. Seattle, Washington
You already know that Seattle is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. What you don’t know is that Seattle is one of the most accessible cities in the US for disabled people.
In May 2017, Wheelchairtravel.org ranked Seattle as the Best Wheelchair Accessible City in the United States. Even today, Seattle still comes on top as one of the best places to live if you’re disabled.
Despite being the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America, this elegant metropolis still caters to the needs of the disabled populace.
Some of the most important places in Seattle including The VA, the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle Aquarium, Harborview Medical Center, The Space Needle observation deck, Puget Sound harbor cruise, and the Experience Music Project Museum (EMP) is 100% wheelchair accessible.
What makes Seattle extra special is the fact that there are lots of employment opportunities for you whether you’re abled, disabled, white, or black. As long as you qualify for that position, I’m sure that you’ll be employed for that role.
If you are not moving to Seattle for the job or accessibility options for wheelchair users, you should know that Seattle is a truly beautiful place. Settle is one of the most popular cities for tourists residing in the United States.
4. San Francisco, California
At a glance, San Francisco may not seem very accessible for wheelchair users because of its mountainous looks and rocky landscapes. But truth be told, the City by the Bay is an excellent place to live if you rely on a wheelchair for mobility.
The transport system in San Francisco is excellent for wheelchair transport. The major transport services in San Francisco: Caltrain, BART, and MUNI accessible ensure that their drivers complete intensive training in wheelchair travel before they can be allowed to transport passengers on wheelchairs.
Besides other iconic landmarks like Alcatraz, Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Fisherman’s Wharf are all wheelchair accessible.
Unlike other cities on this list, there are lots of cheap apartments that are perfect for people in wheelchairs.
5. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is perfect for people that use a Power wheelchair, but you can still enjoy life in Chicago in your manual wheelchair or scooter. As America’s third-largest city, Chi-town has a lot of accessible neighborhoods and destinations across the city.
There are a lot of affordable accommodations for the disabled and wheelchair adapted buses and taxis. Then there are Open Taxes.
Open Taxis is a centralized dispatch service that operates around the clock to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles to customers.
To make Chicago even better for wheelchair users, the state installed over 7,000 ramps for wheelchair users across the city and added a handful of wheelchair-accessible services at a Loop CTA station.
What we liked about Chicago was the fact that it is cleaner than New York and safer than Los Angeles. This beautiful city is perfect for you if you want to enjoy life in an urban area with little stress, noise, or cost.
Chicago is buzzing with culture and beauty. If you are not moving to Chicago, you should visit The Sears Tower, 360 Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Chicago Theatre whenever you travel there. But know that nothing beats the Ferris wheel.
6. Denver, Colorado
Denver defines the true meaning of accessibility for both disabled people and wheelchair users. Denver is completely wheelchair friendly.
The Mile-High City’s Metro is extremely accessible for the disabled and users of wheelchairs.
Everyone visiting Denver for a vacation would love the city because the state has made a lot of renovations make a lot of areas comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
I find the smoothest and best sidewalks are situated in the central business district, the civic center, and near the state capitol, and Wheelchair taxis charge the same rate as normal taxis. How cool is that?
The public transportation system is accessible to the disabled and wheelchair users. All vehicles that can convey wheelchair users have lowered floors, ramps, and wheelchair restraints.
Although Denver doesn’t have a lot of wheelchair taxis that can accommodate both manual and powered wheelchairs, the service is still amazing. If you plan on traveling soon, you can reserve any ADA accessible taxi at least two hours before your journey.
If you are touring the city, there are lots of fun places that you can visit like the Colorado State Capitol Building, Larimer Square, Denver Art Museum, City Park, Denver Zoo, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, or the Denver Aquarium.
7. Orlando, Florida
Orlando is an excellent place to live if you use a wheelchair to move around. Aside from the city’s landscape, Orlando has a lot of light rails, water ferries, city buses, taxis, and airports with wheelchair ramps and lifts to make traveling in a wheelchair easier for you.
The Orlando public bus service, LYNX, have installed hydraulic lifts and restraining belts on all their buses to encourage wheelchair users. There are tons of wheelchair-friendly accommodations in the city.
The standard of living in Orlando is excellent for everyone, but it can be a bit harder for a person that relies on wheelchairs for mobility.
The steep streets will strain your hands and make you burn out faster than you know. However, purchasing a power chair or scooter would solve half of your problem.
The other problem is that Orlando is a bit expensive compared to other similar cities in the US. But if you have no problem with the high cost of living, then you should consider moving to Orlando.
If you are visiting Orlando for a vacation, visit Disney World or Universal Studios, since these places are popular and very accessible.
8. Las Vegas, Nevada
I didn’t know that Las Vegas was wheelchair friendly until I visited the city in March last year. The two months I spent in Vegas was worth it and I enjoyed every second I spent in the city.
Las Vegas is super accessible, especially for wheelchair users. As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, a lot of hotels and strips in the city are wheelchair accessible.
Most of their rooms have features like roll-in showers, transfer showers, tubs with built-in seats, and tubs with portable seats.
Since there are so many strips and hotels in the area, most of them have renovated their facilities to make their facilities wheelchair friendly. This means that you can still have a lot of fun in the Entertainment Capital of the World even if you’re stuck in a wheelchair.
That’s not all. If you are moving to Vegas, you’d see that most of the apartments are wheelchair accessible. If you can’t find one that is wheelchair friendly, you can tweak it a little till it suits you.
The transport system in Vegas is also top-notch. The Regional Transportation Commission and Las Vegas Monorail have wheelchair-accessible vehicles with lifts, ramps, and wheelchair securement areas. They also give discounts to people with wheelchairs.
9. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque is perfect for wheelchair users that enjoy exploring and spending time outdoors. There are hundreds of wheelchair-friendly trails across the city.
One of the most attractive sides of Albuquerque is the fact that it has the warmest sun and freshest air in the region.
Albuquerque’s transport system is completely accessible for both wheelchair users and other disabled people living in the city. The Sun Van Paratransit Service is known for its ability to transport wheelchair users with optimum comfort.
There are also state-of-the-art schools across the city to accommodate students that rely on walkers, scooters, or wheelchairs for mobility. Most of the hospitals, restaurants, malls, and banks in Albuquerque is 100% ADA compliant.
All these are more makes Albuquerque one of the most wheelchair accessible cities for disabled people living in the United States
10. Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the most populous city in Alabama is filled with a lot of accessible destinations and attractions. Birmingham is perfect for wheelchair users looking for a quiet place to live.
There are loads of wheelchair-accessible trails and campgrounds in Alabama including the Birmingham Botanical Garden, Avondale Park, Jones Valley Trail, Crestwood Park, or the High Ore Line Trail.
You can also visit other attractive destinations like The Birmingham Zoo, Talladega Superspeedway, USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, Birmingham.
Birmingham and Alabama were poorly rated on the WalletHub’s List of Cities for People with Disabilities because the editors have never been to Alabama.
Birmingham has a long list of outdoor and indoor attractions that are perfect for wheelchair users.
Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit’s authority even has a lot of para-transit buses to transport wheelchair users in the city.
Whether you’re rediscovering yourself or starting a family, you’ll see that Birmingham wheelchair-accessible destinations and resources are built to the fines standards to ensure that you enjoy your stay.
What Makes A City Wheelchair Friendly?
There are lots of factors that can help you determine if a place is wheelchair accessible or not. If you want to know if a city is wheelchair friendly, here are some key features that you should look out for.
- Quality of life
- Health care
- The employment rate for disabled
- Climate (extreme temperatures and annual snowfall)
- Air Quality
- Number of Physicians
- Number of Rehab Centers
- Economic situation
- Number of Rehab Specialists
- Wheelchair Accessible Transit
- Number of Disabled Living in the Area
- Medicaid Availability
- Age of the City (older cities are harder to renovate)
- The effectiveness of the state’s Medicaid programs
Which City Is Not Wheelchair Accessible?
Since we’ve reviewed the best wheelchair-friendly cities, it will be nice to point out the worst cities for wheelchair users. Let me rephrase that, the least wheelchair-friendly cities in the United States.
There are lots of cities that are not wheelchair accessible in the USA. This doesn’t mean that you should never think of visiting or staying if you are a wheelchair user. It just means that if you move around in a wheelchair, life in these cities would be a tad harder for you.
The least wheelchair accessible cities in the United States is San Juan, St. Louis, Detroit, and Louisiana.