By day two in London we had gotten a better feel for our surroundings and found that the transit system in London is quite accessible to those with disabilities. Many of the train platforms have been constructed in such a way that those in wheelchairs can roll straight from the platform onto the train, which made it very simple to travel from one part of London to the next. Likewise, just about every curb has a cutout or is level with the street so that rolling along the sidewalks is no problem at all. I’ve never been in a city quite as accommodating as London, for not only are physical structures accessible, but the people are more than willing to go out of their way to help. Nowhere was this more evident than in the tube stations and bus stops all across the city.
As noted above, many train platforms are level with the train compartments so that rolling right onto the train in a wheelchair is very simple. However, there are still some stations that do not have this kind of accessibility. This was no problem though, as there always seemed to be transit workers there with portable ramps which enabled me to roll right up onto the train, as pictured above. The kindness displayed by these workers was something I will never forget. Many times we were asked what station we were headed to next and the attendant would radio the next stop and let them know that we would need a ramp. I felt as if the whole of London was rolling out the “red carpet” for me wherever I went. Now if only the queen would have invited us in for tea when we stopped by Buckingham Palace.
The busses in London were also very easy to use, as they all are equipped with wheelchair ramps that come sliding out onto the sidewalk. There is also a designated area just for wheelchairs in each bus. An added bonus is that disabled individuals can ride the busses for free. So, if you are thinking about heading to London you might want to get yourself a wheelchair.
Buildings that are thousands of years old are also very accessible to those with disabilities. For instance, when we visited Westminster Abbey, the staff from the church brought out portable ramps, which enabled me to roll right up into the cathedral. This was true for every cathedral that we visited all throughout England. Why are buildings that are far more new here in the United States not as accessible?
With ease we were able to tour the market on Portobello Road, see the place where Jimi Hendrix, one of my musical heroes, died and visit other sites that we had only ever dreamed about seeing. This was all made possible by those willing to lend a hand to two crazy Americans that jammed a month’s worth of sightseeing into just two weeks!