Four courtesies to extend to wheelchair users in winter

Wheelchair Winter Mary Free BedNavigating a wheelchair in the snow can be a challenge. Below are four ways able-bodied people can be good neighbors during the winter months.

  • If there’s a van-accessible handicapped-parking spot, leave it for a van that is equipped with a wheelchair lift. Be sure not to crowd the van on the passenger side, which is where most lifts are installed.
  • Watch for wheelchair users in parking lots. Because they are lower to the ground, people in wheelchairs aren’t as easy to spot when you’re backing out of a parking space.
  • Don’t be too helpful. Always ask a wheelchair user if he or she needs help and then wait for a response. “If someone came along and pushed me and I wasn’t ready for it, that person could push me right out of my chair,” says Kelly Merz, who uses a manual wheelchair.
  • Keep your sidewalks clear of snow and ice in the winter! “For people in a chair, the choice is the sidewalk or the road. If you don’t clear your sidewalks, you don’t leave them much choice,” says Betsy Nolan, whose son uses a pediatric power wheelchair.



Rollator Walker

These all seem to be simple but many people are not aware of what can cause problems for wheelchair users. As you mentioned, accidents can happen if drivers are careless. Also, in parking lots, I have seen a wheelchair user who could not get up to his van as another car parked too close to the passenger side of handicapped-parking spot.


Many people will use the access lane to pile up the snow… Or the ramp to
the curb… Trapping people who need that


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