The sidewalks and streets in Gibraltar are largely wheelchair accessible, with curb ramps at the majority of intersections and road crossings. Sidewalks in the center of the city are well kept, with the exception of a handful of side streets and alleyways.
Main Street is a largely pedestrian zone, lined with shops, restaurants and bars. The sidewalks lining this corridor are level and offer fantastic wheelchair accessibility. While not all of the businesses offer step-free entry, many do.
Many of the downtown street crossings are outfitted with traffic and pedestrian signals. Tactile pavements are installed on sidewalks at crossings and curb ramps. Such features improve the safety of wheelchair users, people with disabilities and able-bodied pedestrians alike.
While the sidewalks and pavements contribute to the character of the city, some surfaces may present more challenges than others for wheelchair users. While the majority of pavements in the city are relatively smooth, some areas that employ brick or stone pavements have aged, making the use of a wheelchair more difficult. I also noticed rough cobblestones in certain areas around the Marina.
When traveling beyond Winston Churchill Avenue or Main Street in the center of the city, wheelchair users will face an unavoidable geographic obstacle: elevation changes. With Gibraltar having been built into the side of a towering rock, the streets (and by extension, the sidewalks) cannot escape the necessity of steep grades. While my power wheelchair was well suited for this task, manual wheelchair users will find it impossible to make their way up or down many streets outside the city center without assistance. While the city has made great efforts make streets and sidewalks as accessible as possible, it simply cannot overcome every barrier presented by the natural environment of Gibraltar’s Rock.
In practice, even for manual wheelchair users, the steep sidewalks outside of the city center shouldn’t restrict too much. Without utilizing public or private transit, wheelchair travelers would need to remain in the flat center of the city.