Touring New York on Wheel Chair: A Guide

New York is one of the most interesting places to visit in the world. The ever buzzing, fast life and concrete canyons are always a thrill, no matter how long you’ve stayed in the big city.

But it is that unique feature of New York that ironically makes people with disability issues want to skip on making it a holiday destination. They simply think the city too big and overwhelming to have a hassle-free touring experience.

But with a good guide and some knowledge, you’ll find a trip around this exciting city on wheelchair safe and warm. The key is to plan do a lot of early planning.


Part of this plan would include applying for an ESTA, which is one of the raft of changes introduced by President Donald Trump in an effort to control travel and immigration. Electronic System for Travel Authorization, for short, ESTA, allows visitors from certain countries under the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to travel to the US without a visa. Could from qualifying countries can apply for an ESTA online by going to and filling the approval form.

First: Renting a Wheelchair in New York

Ideally, you’re hoping that when you arrive at your hotel, there’ll be a wheelchair to use or rent. Maybe a scooter too or a power-chair.

In view of the characteristic of the city, it will be better to get both a wheelchair and a scooter.

First, pushing a wheelchair through the nooks and crannies of New York can be a tiring task for your guide or accompanying relative. You can simply switch between the two.

Renting a Wheelchair in New York

Besides, moving learning how to use a scooter and get around more easily in it, it can also be useful carrying a few shopping bags when you and your guide or family member visit the shopping mall on the Fifth Avenue.

Getting around in a taxi

Although there are over 13,000 yellow cabs in Manhattan, the available leg space varies considerably depending on which cab pulls stop. However, all cabs are obliged to take every passenger, including people on wheelchairs. You’ll find the drivers friendly and helpful too.

However, note that cabs in New York might appear a little stuffy especially if you’re coming from a British background where you have so much space to yourself.

New York transit

The good thing, however, is that there’s a special programme that offers taxis that are wheelchair accessible all day, and with no advance reservations required. Once in New York, simply dial 311 or 001 646 599 9999 to reach the dispatch centre directly, or send an SMS to 001 646 400 0789 to make a request. You can also download WOW (Wheels on Wheels) on iOS or make an online order at

… Or by public transport

With many stations equipped with elevators and ramps, it makes it possible for people with limited mobility to get around relatively easy in New York.

Buses offer even better public transport alternative as they are fitted with automatic ramps that allow wheelchair users to board easily.

Amazing places to see and tour

New York has many interesting places to see and tour, and with your scooter it’s perfectly possible to roam the city riding on the low-cut kerbs of most of the pavements. Most of the big shopping centres have are wheelchair-accessible, and add to the New York’s personality as a wheelchair-friendly city.

At the Empire State building, there’s adequate provision for the special needs of people on wheelchair with disabled restrooms on the 86th floor, with lowered viewing walls.

Also, tourists on wheels are allowed to be at the front of any queue. And at the airport, they are also permitted to jump the lines for immigration.

All the city museums, such as the New York Historical Society and the Metropolitan Museum of Art are also wheelchair users-friendly.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Choosing the right hotel

People with limited mobility have got used to the idea that most of the time, what is promised is not always what is delivered.

Same often goes with hotels when you pre-book a room or suite before your arrival in the city. For example, you may find the special needs-made bathrooms easy to access as promised, the bedroom may not be quite spacious and comfy to move around easily on a wheelchair.

But if you look around the city a little more and use your hotel guide, you may find ones with larger rooms with a different sitting area and walk-in bathrooms.

The key is to look for a hotel that makes adequate arrangements for the special needs of people with mobility issues; with warm and friendly room service staff.

Relishing the appetizing Manhattan cuisines

There are lots of bars and restaurants in New York to visit and you’ll largely find them accommodating to you.  But the quality and access levels vary widely; so you can’t always expect an easy ride. It’s always bets to phone in first and check if there are adequate provisions for people in a wheelchair before turning up.