Reminder: Don't take your wheelchair on escalators

There's a good reason why wheelchair-bound people should not use escalators. This video from Boston's transit system clearly shows why.

CTA riders can always check accessibility status of escalators and elevators on the CTA website.


Leave a comment
  • I don't think that the woman is wheelchair-bound. It is pretty clear that she is able to walk when necessary. She may have some other condition that necessitates having a wheelchair, though. I have a feeling that she has done this successfully on previous occasions.

  • As a manual wheelchair user (not wheelchair bound, I don't sit in this thing 24-7), to use a blanket statement to say that all wheelchair users should never use the escalator under any circumstances is ridiculous. I have issues using down escalators, so I avoid them, but have never had issues using an up escalator, which at this point in my life I'd say I've done it thousands of times.

    It is possible to do it safely as long as you hold on to both rails; here are some good examples:

    The following is from a more skilled escalator rider:

    Also, in cases when I've had to use stations with escalators but not elevators, what else can I do? I'm not waiting on a bus that'll unnecessarily add 20 minutes to my trip when I have to be someplace in 15 minutes.

    Plus, if I had a nickel for every time I boarded an elevator on the CTA or other rapid transit system that some bum had used as a toilet, I'd be richer than Bill Gates. No chance I'm taking that elevator when there's a perfectly good escalator right in front of me that I don't have to wait on, especially when my train is a mere 2 minutes away.

  • Thanks for the links BMS. I would be very scared to use an escalator in a wheechair, but I these links prove it's possible.

    So, what did the person in this Boston video do wrong? It looks like the main thing was she didn't hold on to both handrails. What else?

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    No problem Kevin. If there's one thing this woman did wrong, based on what I can see, it is the alignment of the where the wheels touch the ground relative to where the steps are.

    I can't tell where her front wheels are at, but it appears that her back wheels were strattling two different would-be steps when she boarded, and presumably her larger front wheels were as well. As a result, gravity takes over. The guy in the 3rd video talks about this at the very beginning; larger wheels can only be touching one step for this to work.

    My chair is more like the one used by the guy from the 3rd video, but it's my understanding that despite their heavier weight, it's safer to use a power chair for this, though I guess it didn't matter here. The only good reason I'd give her for having boarded one-handed lefty are:

    - Has good strength in her left wrist
    - Is left handed
    - She's ridden this escalator countless times, and the handrails move in a predicatable manner, i.e. non-jerky and not of a significantly different speed from the steps

    It's also quite possible that she didn't have a wide enough wingspan to comfortably grab both handrails on such a wide escalator.

    Using an up escalator in a wheelchair is definitely intimidating at first (it took me about 6 months after seeing it for the first time to drum up the nerve to try it), but I got the hang of it after a couple tries and have done it regularly ever since without incident.

Leave a comment