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Accessibility in the City: How Does Delhi Compare to London?

October 17, 2014

This is a guest post by Pano Savvidis. Thanks to Pano.

Delhi is slowly becoming a more and more accessible place for those with mobility issues. Over the last few years, various steps have been taken to make Delhi barrier free and more accessible for the elderly and disabled. But how does it compare to other capital cities, namely London?

Transport

There is a range of different types of transport in both London and Delhi.

London’s transport includes the Tube, buses, overground trains, the DLR, taxis, trams and, now, the cable car. The Tube is supposed to make travelling around London easy, but if you have mobility problems it can be very difficult, especially when it’s very busy. There are only certain stations that are step free, and on top of this, there is generally a gap between the platform and the train. So, although you might imagine London to be more accessible, the Tube itself is probably not the best option for an individual in a wheelchair. London buses are much easier, as all 8,500 are low floor vehicles, and they also have a retractable ramp. For wheelchair users they are free to travel on too. All the back cabs in London are wheelchair accessible, and many more private cab companies offer wheelchair accessible cars too, so all in all, the accessibility of London for wheelchair users is relatively good. While the buses and taxis are good, the Tube has a lot of catching up to do.

Delhi’s public transport comprises of the Metro rail, buses and auto-rickshaws. Buses are the most popular means of transport in Delhi. The DTC buses, or the Delhi Transport Corporation, are low floor vehicles with a manual ramp, just as London’s buses are. And, like London buses, they can become crowded and therefore difficult for wheelchair users. The Metro Rail is very accessible to wheelchair users, with lifts, low height counters, level platform entry, wider doors and lots of space for wheelchair parking. Auto rickshaws are great for taking you to exactly where you want to be, unlike buses that only take you to designated places. So if you’re willing to be handled to transfer into the back of the rickshaw, and your wheelchair is foldable, then an auto rickshaw can often be one of the best ways to travel as an individual with mobility problems. In Bangalore, a local start up providing taxi services to the city’s physically disabled offers hope that there may be something similar in Delhi soon, so elderly citizens and wheelchair users can get around very easily.

Looking at this objectively, it seems that Delhi is on a par, if not more so, with London in terms of its transport’s accessibility. London and Delhi both have room for improvement, however.

Landmarks and Sightseeing

Both cities are hugely tourist driven, and as more and more wheelchair users are gaining confidence to travel, it’s hugely important that those with mobility issues are catered for.

Delhi has many incredible places to see, and with lots of paved streets and ramps instead of steps, they are mostly easily accessible by wheelchair.

The Dilli Haat is a traditional rural haat, or village market, selling crafts, food with cultural activity, but with no barriers. There are ramps with railings throughout the market and ticket counters have been lowered.

The National Zoological Park is a huge zoo spread over 214 acres and is regarded as one of the finest zoos in Asia, but it is only partly accessible. As the park strives to give its animals a habitat that very closely resembles their natural habitat, the park may not suitable for wheelchairs in some areas.

The Lotus Temple is one of the most incredible architectures of Bahai faith. Made of marble, cement, dolomite and sand, it looks like a huge lotus flower. However, despite the fact that there are no restrictions for visitors, it is only partly accessible for the disabled.

London’s attractions, however, are much more accessible. Buckingham Palace, for instance, offers level access, lifts, and free-of-charge wheelchairs. The Natural History Museum, too, has a whole range of accessible facilities so you can see most, if not all of the exhibits even if you have mobility problems.

So, in comparison, Delhi has a long way to come before it meets London in this respect.

If Delhi continues on the path it is on with regards to accessibility, it may yet be on a par with one of Europe’s most wheelchair accessible cities.

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