I’m planning to drive to Washington DC in my own adapted van next spring. I use a power wheelchair and would like to see the popular sights. What’s the best — and most accessible — way for me to get around?
Since you are driving to Washington DC, my top suggestion is to park your van while you are there and use public transportation. Traffic is heavy in Washington DC and parking spots are difficult to find — and that goes double for accessible parking spots. The good news is that it’s easy to get around once you have the right resources at hand.
At the top of the list is the DC Circulator (www.dccirculator.com), which provides bus transportation to the District’s main attractions. There are six DC Circulator bus routes, but if you want to hit the top tourist attractions then the National Mall Route is your best choice. It begins at Union Station and stops at the National Gallery of Art, Washington Monument, Holocaust Memorial Museum, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Capitol, and the National Air & Space Museum.
The buses run every 10 minutes and you can board at any stop. Best of all the fare is just $1 per ride, or $3 for an all day pass. Access is excellent on the buses too, as they all keel, have lifts or low floor ramps, and are equipped with two sets of tie-downs with lap belts. It’s really a great way to see the sights.
If your hotel isn’t along or near the National Mall Route, you can always take the Metrorail (www.wmata.com) Red Line to Union Station, and then hop on the bus. All Metrorail stations are wheelchair-accessible, with elevators and good directional signage to the accessible routes. Additionally, since all the stations have gap reducers, you can just roll right on to the railcars. For updated information about elevator outages, call (202) 962-1212. And if there’s an outage at your station, call (202) 962-1825 to arrange for a free shuttle.
Last but not least, two Washington DC taxi companies have accessible vehicles — Yellow Cab (www.dcyellowcab.com) and Royal Taxi, which can be ordered through DC Taxi (www.dctaxionline.com). Although this is the most expensive option, it’s a good choice for areas not served by public transportation.
So park your van and have a blast in our nation’s capital!