10 Great Cities for the Physically Disabled
7. Birmingham, Ala.
The city's been shrinking since the 1970s, but it still has winter temperatures in the 60s and vast health care resources thanks to the University of Alabama at Birmingham and HealthSouth(HLS) . The biggest perk, however, comes from the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, which operates nearly two dozen paratransit buses throughout the city.
Old, snowy, vertical: How did Chicago get considered for this list? Part of it stems from the Chicago Transit Authority, which made more than 90 of its 145 rail stations ADA compliant and offers discounted fares to wheelchair users. The city's extensive health care infrastructure comes in handy as well, but the Healthy Community Mapping System that the University of Illinois is creating for the city to track the actual accessibility of buildings, fitness centers, sidewalks and stores will be a bit more helpful. The system will tell users where amenities are best and where obstacles such as steep lips on sidewalks or narrow doors will be a problem.
5. Portland, Ore.
The Legacy Health System, Oregon Health & Science University Hospital and other health care facilities give plenty of options for care, but the myriad means of reaching those facilities is what makes Portland so accessible. The city's buses, MAX light rail trains and streetcars all accommodate wheelchairs, but the TriMet transportation system's Lift service provides riders more than 250 minibuses and more than a dozen cars to take them around the city.
There was a time Denver was a big, sprawling, transit-deprived mess that was tough for just about anyone to navigate, but that time has long since passed. The Regional Transportation District has expanded its bus and rail offerings and made all of it wheelchair accessible with priority seating. It also offers an Access-a-ride program that takes wheelchair riders anywhere within a three-quarter-mile radius of its transit system.
3. Reno, Nev.
The Biggest Little City In The World can get pretty cold in the winter and windy all year long, but there's very little precipitation and very little to keep folks from getting around. The Regional Transportation Commission's wheelchair-accessible bus and bus rapid transit lines only helps by offering reduced fares for passengers with disabilities. RTC Access buses help shrink the city a bit as well by providing paratransit service in the city's center as well as some of its outlying areas.