“Roll-ability” of Bucharest Sidewalks

Sidewalk pavements in Bucharest have a highly variable state of repair between streets and neighborhoods.  Many sidewalks are smooth, while others are littered with cracks and holes.  Tourist avenues, such as those surrounding the Piata Victoriei, Unirii Square and the many national museums, feature extremely well cared for sidewalks.  In general, the physical condition of the sidewalks is moderate and wheelchair users will encounter occasional difficulty rolling along the pavements.

Nearly all intersections in the primary tourist centers of Bucharest feature curb cuts.  Sidewalks along side streets, older neighborhoods and primarily residential areas will often be without curb cuts.  The cuts rarely provide a completely smooth or level transition with the street or intersection, but are instead one to two inches elevated.  In areas where a curb cut does not exist, wheelchair travelers may need to roll along the street for a block or two.  It is recommended that wheelchair users roll against traffic in the streets, so as to keep sight of oncoming cars.

Another difficulty for wheelchair users is the motorists who often use sidewalks as parking spaces in areas of the city with a low number of pedestrians.  Wheelchair users traveling along streets outside the central tourist areas or those with high pedestrian traffic will encounter parked vehicles which block access to the sidewalk.  In these instances, the wheeler will be forced to turn around or to enter the roadway.  Drivers will yield, but as always, operating a wheelchair on the street itself is a risk.

Weather is also a significant factor affecting accessibility in Bucharest.  The city has a significant winter season.  The snow and ice on the ground and on sidewalks can make traversing the city independently in a wheelchair rather challenging.  While streets and sidewalks are cleared, significant amounts of snowfall are common and slow this process down.  Summer and Fall are the best seasons to visit Romania in a wheelchair, as they offer a better experience for tourists.

One positive note is that the Romanian people are typically quite helpful and will not hesitate to assist a wheelchair user over a curb if necessary.  Drivers will also stop for pedestrians forced to cross a street.