Wheelchair User's Tips On Navigating New York City

Curated by
Whitney Bailey
Content via Jesi Stracham
Jesi Stracham
Curated by
Whitney Bailey

“I have traveled all over the United States. This country has surprised me in the best ways and in some of the worst,” says Jesi Stracham, a paraplegic. She recently traveled to New York City. She gives her opinion on the overall accessibility for wheelchair users visiting the city.

Jesi in times square

“While the Big Apple is an exhilarating place to visit, its lack of accessibility was surprising.”


The sidewalks in New York City are rough and uneven. Jesi advises wheelchair users rolling on the sidewalks to always be aware of where your front casters are headed.

“Obstacles such as holes, ledges, cobblestone, and debris are anything but scarce.”

There are small inclines throughout the city. Therefore, Jesi states a power assist for a manual wheelchair would be ideal.

Jesi states curb cuts are hard to find in the city. She often had to do a wheelie to pop on and off the curbs. She strongly recommends wearing gloves as you push your wheelchair throughout the city.


jesi posing at subway

“Taking the cities Access-A-Ride (accessible cab service) could be time-consuming due to traffic,” says Jesi. She recommends taking the subway to make the most out of your time while visiting New York City. But, give yourself plenty of time when choosing the subway because of the lack of signage for what access elevator takes you where can lead to boarding the wrong train.

When boarding the train there is a small gap between the platform and train. Jesi says she was able to pop a wheelie over the gap.


New York City was founded in 1624. Jesi says the cities lack of accessibility coincides with the year it was founded. She states that most buildings had stairs to access them.

“When Googling businesses they do not tell you whether or not they are accessible. You could make a trip across town only to find you cannot get up the flight of stairs.”

There are businesses that attempted to make their establishment wheelchair accessible by installing a steep cement ramp where the stairs were.

There were two instances where Jesi chose to dine outside at restaurants because through the compact arrangement of tables. After eating at one of the establishments, Jesi went to use the restroom only to find that her wheelchair could not fit through the narrow doorway.

“I was shocked to see the shortfall of accessibility in such an advanced city.”


Jesi and group of friends at beat the bomb

While in New York City, Jesi and a group of friends went to an attraction called Beat The Bomb. She states, “It was a cool experience and the facility was beyond accommodating when it came to accessibility!”

Jesi at the metropolitan museum of art

Jesi also visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “The museum was MASSIVE. Between fighting crowds and the size of this building, it could take a full day to see the museum in its entirety.”

Jesi recommends visiting some free attractions while in New York City such as Times Square, Central Park, and the Staten Island Ferry. Check out her original post for a list of free attractions.

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