As a current or future wheelchair user, you may be asking yourself, “How can I transport a wheelchair?”. The ability to travel with your wheelchair and take it with you everywhere you go can help you regain your mobile independence. In this article, we are going to go through a number of ways that you can transport a wheelchair, so you can make an informed decision on what will work best for your needs, budget, and lifestyle.
Folding wheelchairs come in at number one on our list of ways that you can transport a wheelchair. This is because, without a doubt, it is the easiest and most affordable for wheelchair users. Here at EasyGo Mobility, we provide foldable electric wheelchairs that fold in 3 easy steps, so you don’t have to fidget with disassembling pieces. With the ability to fold into a compact size, you will still be able to use your trunk for shopping bags. Additionally, our folding wheelchairs are more affordable than any other option mentioned on this list, not to mention we offer various financing options.
The second most popular way to transport a wheelchair is by using a disassembling wheelchair. As the name implies, this type of wheelchair can break down into multiple parts. This makes them more manageable to lift up and put into the trunk of your vehicle. Keep in mind that disassembling may be difficult for some people who have limited mobility or arthritis in their fingers, wrists, and/or arms. Additionally, if you have a hard time bending over, disassembling wheelchairs could be difficult to manage if you plan on using it fairly regularly. If you want to read a comparison of foldable vs disassembling wheelchairs, check out this article.
A platform lift, like the Bruno Joey Platform Lift shown below, is able to lift up your wheelchair or mobility scooter from the ground and into your vehicle. A platform lift is very convenient as you can drive your wheelchair right onto the platform. They have a 350-pound weight capacity, so most scooters and wheelchairs under this weight are compatible. Then, use the remote to automatically raise the lift, and bring it safely into your vehicle. This can be a good option for those that have difficulties bending over. But, as you can see, this lift requires a large SUV or van in order to accommodate. Additionally, you lose out on storage in your trunk as it takes up a lot of space. Keep in mind that platform lifts can be on the more expensive side.
Hitch lifts, like the Bruno Out-Sider seen below, can carry wheelchairs or scooters on the outside of your vehicle. This can be helpful if your vehicle has a towing ability, but not enough space for a platform lift. Additionally, you will still have access to your trunk for storage. Again, this type of lift can accommodate wheelchairs or scooters weighing 350 pounds or less. A hitch lift is generally more affordable than a platform lift as it is easier to install and has fewer mechanics, but is still fairly expensive.
Wheelchair Accessible Van
Of course, a wheelchair-accessible van is always an option if you are looking to transport a wheelchair. These types of vans are converted specifically for wheelchair users. They offer either rear ramps or side door ramps to help the wheelchair user drive right into the van. This is a great option if you have assistance with you when you are looking to use it. Wheelchair-accessible vans can be upwards of a hundred thousand dollars, so keep this in mind if you are considering it. Some may be able to get insurance coverage or grants from charities.
Accessible Taxi Services
Most taxi companies in your area will have a handful of wheelchair-accessible vehicles. But, they can be difficult to book from time to time and you typically have to book at least a few hours in advance, if not more. Recently Uber has come out with UberWAV, which can accommodate electric wheelchair users who do not use foldable electric wheelchairs. Simply download the Uber app to your phone, and choose the option UberWAV when you are selecting which type of ride want. UberWAV is not available everywhere and still may require pre-booking due to how new it is. But, it is a step in the right direction for taxi companies to become more accessible.
Portable Wheelchair Ramp
Portable wheelchair ramps can be a good option for those with a heavy wheelchair that does not disassemble. A lot of smaller wheelchairs can fit in the back of an SUV or van with the seats down. If you have the space, a ramp might be a good option for you. Ramps are definitely one of the more affordable options on this list, but require a decent amount of strength and stability to roll your wheelchair up the ramp and into your vehicle.
One of the less-fun options on this list is public transportation. Public transportation, like city buses, can accommodate most sizes of wheelchairs. Every city will have different size requirements for wheelchairs and other mobility equipment, so if you’re unsure, it’s best to reach out to your area’s transportation office. Public transportation is the most affordable option on this list, but it comes with its cons. Bad weather, a full bus, indirect routes, and unfriendly passengers can all make public transportation a less-than-ideal option.
Roof Chair Topper
I left this option for last, as it’s not a super popular way to transport a wheelchair. But, it’s still good to mention it because it might be convenient for you. One of the most popular versions of the roof chair topper is by BraunAbility, seen below. This specific chair topper is essentially a capsule that sits on the top of your vehicle. Then, it is able to lift the wheelchair up, and then turn it horizontally so it sits inside of the capsule while you are driving. Not every roof chair topper is this fancy, you can find some that are more manual, which will be more affordable. Keep in mind that this might not work on all vehicles, and will add weight and height to your vehicle as well.
Practice Makes Perfect
The first time that you load up your wheelchair, no matter how you do it, it will be difficult. Every way that you can transport a wheelchair will have a learning curve. But, the more times you do it, the easier it will be. You will get faster and more comfortable transporting your wheelchair in no time.
There are a number of ways that you are able to transport a wheelchair. Hopefully, in the future, there will be even more as accessibility options become more available. If you are between a few different options, try to make a chart and weigh out the pros and cons of each option. This can make it easier to visualize how you will transport a wheelchair on a regular basis. If you have any questions about EasyGo Mobility’s foldable power chairs, don’t hesitate to reach out.