Travel Tips: London for physically challenged travelers
London will be hosting the 2012 Olympic Games starting this month as well as the Paralympic Games. The city has a good opportunity to market itself as a destination that is very accessible to people with mobility issues. The transport network will definitely be feeling the pressure with the influx of travelers and increased demand for facilities and extra services for people with disability.
The provisions for accessibility may be different from one establishment to another but moving around will not be so difficult with considerable choices around London. The transport network is not a full-proof accessible system but those with disability can enjoy their London holiday with some good planning.
Here are some useful websites that you can use to prepare for your trip:
It is east to get seats on the London Overground, London Underground, or the Docklands Light Railway. There is also sufficient visual and audio information when you get to the platforms and most trains. There are also wide gates on train stations to accommodate any wheelchair ambulant individuals or for people who may be commuting with their guide dogs.
The London Underground also boasts of its 60 stations that are step-less from the street to the platforms. Some tube stations though can still be quite a challenge for people with disability specially those with gaps between the door of the carriage and the train platform. It can also be a challenge when some carriage doors will be higher than the platform. Central London is not a very big place and at some point it might be better to avoid the underground.
You can checkout the Accessible Travel Page to check the most accessible stations during the Olympics. You can plan ahead when you know that a station has a staff ready to assist you, hassle-free entrance and exit from trains, and easy access from the streets. For the London Overground, people who may need some assistance during their transit can pre-book their request for assistance by calling them at 0845 6601,4867.
The London cabs are accessible for people commuting on their wheelchair or with their guide dogs. The licensed taxis have grab handles, intercoms, induction loops, and other provisions for people with disability. If you will be booking a minicab, it will be better to check the features of the cab and maybe request a more appropriate vehicle for you.
The city buses of London have low floors and have ramps for people using a wheelchair. They also assign priority seats for people with disability near the doors. The final destination, route number, and the next stop are announced. They also allow guide dogs on buses. Even the double-decker red buses can now accommodate people with disability although there are still buses that need to be equipped with wheelchair ramps.
All of the piers in London are wheelchair-friendly. You can get on board from the pier to the boat without any problem. What you should check though is the accessibility provisions on the boat itself.
If you are bringing your own vehicle, you can get a Blue Badge so you can use parking slots for people with disability. You can checkout the London 2012 website and book it there. There are also Park & Ride services which you can use if you want to park your car and take a shuttle to the venue of the official games.