The UK has 69 different cities, some big, some small, some famous, many not so, and let’s be frank, some which are far more accessible than others. Indeed, only a handful can proudly claim to be properly friendly to people with disabilities. Others, it’s sad to say, present problems to those with mobility issues wanting to use public transport. We can and we should be doing so much better. From step-free access, ramps and lifts, to venues that have a hearing loop and restaurants that have menus in Braille, there are so many ways to better cater for those who have accessibility needs. Fortunately, there are some cities way ahead of the pack, setting an example to the rest and helping the disabled live their life with as little obstruction as possible. With the help of Lookers, motability dealers, here are 4 of the most accessible cities in the UK.
- SIGHTSEEING BY BOAT – From sightseeing tours by bus to guided museum trips, there are many accessible tours available in London. One of the best, however, has got to be by boat. Indeed, one of the easiest and most picturesque ways to see the sights of London is by cruising down the Thames. Setting sail at sunset serves up spectacular, scenic views of London, and is a great way to see day turning to night in the capital.
- SIGHTSEEING BY BUS – One of the easiest and cheapest (and in our view, best) ways to travel around London is by bus. All London buses are low-floor and fitted with a hydraulic ramp and as such, are able to ‘’kneel’ to the curb, making it easy for wheelchair users to roll on. They also have a designated space for wheelchairs from which you can see the streets of London as you travel. And the best bit? You can travel on London buses for free if you’re a wheelchair user.
- THE BLACK CAB EXPERIENCE – You can’t come to London without experiencing a ride in one of the city’s iconic black cabs, all of which are wheelchair-accessible (well, the licensed ones anyway). ‘The Knowledge’ – which you’d be forgiven for thinking is some sort of London cult – is something all cabbies must know in order to get their license and involves learning by heart the some 320 routes through the 25,000 streets of London. This atlas of London, imprinted in black cabbies brains typically takes between two and four years to learn and part of the process involves having to remember 100,000 landmarks and being able to navigate between them. These black cabs are easy to hail from the street, but you can also make advanced bookings online or via the phone by this one number: 0871 871 8710.
If you’re struggling for inspiration for somewhere to visit this summer, then look no further than Scotland’s largest city. Although its sister, Edinburgh, may boast the castle and beautiful Royal Mile, Glasgow is by no means behind the capital city. Deemed as one of the most accessible cities in the UK, the cultural hub offers a vibrant buzz like no other. Getting to Glasgow in the first place, just like your time when you’re there, is fairly stress free. Queen Street and Central are train stations slap bang in the middle of the city, while the two airports offering international travel are Glasgow and Prestwick. Some of the best things to do in the city include:
- SHOPPING – Thanks to the Clyde, and Glasgow’s relationship with ship-building, much of the city is flat. The shopping scene is no different and offers so much more than most of its UK counterparts in terms of variety. Argyll Arcade is the ideal choice if you’re looking to take advantage of the chic jewellery options on offer. On the other hand, the St Enoch Centre hits the 21st century with a bang, offering a modern, sleek shopping experience. The best news it that both offer wheelchair access and similarly smooth-covered flooring to allow ease of movement.
- A TRIP TO THE CLYDE – Unlike most other major attractions in the world that require climbing thirty steps before even getting a glimpse of a view, the Clyde has wheelchair access and is often resurfaced in order to make the journey as smooth as possible. Not only does this make the travel that little bit easier, but it also allows you to take on the beautiful Glasgow quayside at your own pace and steam.
- GO KARTING AT THE EXPERIENCE – Scotland’s only dedicated accessible karting track, The Experience offers individuals the opportunity to race go-karts at up to 35mph. Not only is the entire building based on the ground floor, but the company have also invested in hoists and slings to assist those with access issues get into the karts. Depending on your need, they can either race you round and you be the co-driver, or alternatively, you can take the wheel yourself. Either way, the adrenaline will soar. Result.
- VISITING THE TALL SHIP – Perhaps being on land isn’t your thing. If not, say bon voyage and roll aboard the Tall Ship. The tourist attraction, docked on the Clyde, has lift access on board, which allows you to reach the tea room in the deck below. Also, if you don’t have a car, there is a wheelchair accessible bus which runs throughout the day and stops less than 100m from the entrance.
- VISITING THE TITANIC – Fast becoming renowned as one of the UK’s must see tourist attractions, the Titanic Museum, which takes visitors through the iconic ship’s creation, is fully wheelchair accessible. Visitors can explore never before seen artefacts and experience the fascinating engine room replica.
- A BLACK CAB TOUR – The taxi service which runs through Belfast areas, such as the Falls and the Shankill, is the best way to learn about the history of the Troubles. All cabs have wheelchair access and do pick-ups from the major transport links at Great Victoria Street or Laganside.
- A TRIP TO GIANTS CAUSEWAY – Known indigenously as the eighth wonder of the world, the rock formation on the North Antrim coastline provides some of the most breathtaking and idyllic scenery in the world. In recent years, a multi-million-pound visitors centre was established, and a wheelchair accessible bus now runs, transporting people down to the stones.
- EXPLORING THE CATHEDRAL QUARTER –The number of bars within the city’s bustling nightlife area, the Cathedral Quarter, has increased ten-fold in recent years. With all the bars providing wheelchair access, and live music a staple on at least six nights a week, The Dirty Onion, the Duke of York and the Thirsty Goat, all exist as top-notch watering holes.
In 2017, thanks to a concerted effort on development and diversity over several years, Chester became the first UK city to win the coveted European Access City Award. Some of the best things to do in the city include:
- VISITING THE THE CITY WALLS – Undoubtedly Chester’s most stunning piece of scenery. If a wheelchair user visits most major historic attractions throughout the world, they’ll find accessibility a barrier to the full experience. This is because making alterations to a historic structure is often impossible. In Chester, however, the walls are surrounded by a mixture of gently sloping paths, and on occasions where wheelchair access isn’t available for heritage reasons, additional handrails have been positioned.
- RETAIL THERAPY TWO-TIER SHOPPING – The concept, which may seem confusing to someone who hasn’t seen it before, is exactly it says on the tin. Shops on top of shops might be an ever-present feature in shopping centres in the 21st century, however, the Chester Rows have been around for 700 years. Nowadays, you’ll find designer labels but back in the middle ages, ironmongers and shoemakers would have made their money here. In order to get to the second level of shops, visitors usually take the stairs.