How Do I Navigate the Hills in My Town in My Wheelchair?

Mar 30, 2019

Anonymous asks, quote:

I live in a mountain town and literally everything is a hill. How do I get around on a wheelchair? Should I just save up for an electric one?

end quote.

It depends on a lot of factors, really. I live in one of the hilliest cities in the United States, so I’ll tell you the things that I do to get around.

Know the Geography

Third and Seneca is virtually impossible for me to go up in my chair. If I need to get to 4th and Seneca, I make sure to get off a block earlier at Pike Street (which is basically flat until you hit 6th) and then go over to Seneca.

Knowing the geography of your town will go a long way in helping you navigate your city? Are there any connecting streets that start at a higher elevation than the hill you are trying to climb? If so, take them. It’ll be a longer journey but it will take less energy to get there.

If there are no flat areas at higher elevations, study the hills in your town and figure out which ones have the lowest grade and practice going up them. For example, there’s no way in hell I can get up 1st and Seneca but I can easily get up first and University. It’s all about the trade‐off.

Find Buildings With Double Lobbies

Some buildings are actually built directly into a hill and have double lobbies: a different public entrance for each street the building crosses. You can use the elevators in these buildings to jump from one street to another without having to go up the hill.

Study the Bus/Public Transportation Routes

Figure out which buses go from the lower streets to the higher ones and take those when you need to. It takes a lot of extra planning (depending on the bus schedule), but it beats trying to go up an insane hill.

Use Tech

If you truly need help getting (directly) up the hills, I’ve heard good things about the SmartDrive. It’s expensive, but it beats getting a whole new chair just to deal with the hills.