GearAbility is back, and the laptop is feeling much better now, thank you. In honor of the summer weather — which is currently rotten on the east coast, but probably lots better in California — today’s post celebrates the great outdoors.
Berkeley, California resident Ann Sieck has a website called San Francisco Bay Area Wheelchair Accessible Trails, with a rather comprehensive listing of trails she’s either used herself with various wheelchairs, or which have been rated by other “reliable sources”.
Sieck’s reviews are intelligent and comprehensive, including information about accessible restrooms, turnstiles, transit options, available van parking and more, for parks and trails all around the Bay Area.
She provides ratings for each ranging from “AA” (“Excellent: ADA compliant or very close, with at least an enjoyable stretch of trail smoothly paved”) to “E” (“Too tough for me: if you do it and survive, please report your experience”). There’s also a “Not!” category, “suitable for Mark Wellman (the paraplegic who climbed El Capitan)”.
Also included is a page called Could you do it in a wheelchair? with a helpful discussion of potential trail conditions and obstacles. She notes that determining what’s feasible for any particular individual can be a bit tricky:
Having covered a lot of unlikely terrain in several different (but all standard-issue) chairs over more than 20 years, I should be qualified to tell you what a really inaccessible trail looks like. But what with paraplegic Mark Wellman climbing El Capitan, and the IBot, a wheelchair that can climb stairs, now available for the merest $30,000, somebody will probably prove me wrong. Still, judging whether a trail is potentially navigable by wheelchair is not rocket science.
Rocket science or not, this website’s a great resource; Sieck’s done the homework so that your trip can be enjoyable the first time out.
One caveat: The site uses Flash navigation, an unpleasant and unfortunate choice. People like me who find Flash to be supremely annoying will not be pleased by the contortions necessary to get through the site.
Photo: Ann Sieck and friend at Grant Park, from her website