Due to its geographic location, Milwaukee experiences some tough winters. As a result, sidewalk pavements fall into disrepair more quickly. That said, I found the footpaths to be adequately accessible, and the wheelchair roll to be comfortable enough in the majority of places.
Curb cuts and ramps were present at all intersections, and I was never forced into the streets during my weeklong tour of Milwaukee. The crossing signals were functional, and gave me plenty of time to cross the street in my wheelchair. At some intersections, the signal button was inaccessible, but this is typical of most cities in the world. Who designs those things?
I criss-crossed streets in the downtown neighborhoods, from the Third Ward to Haymarket and the Lower East Side. I saw signs of sidewalk resurfacing and repair along Wisconsin Avenue and the major cross-streets of downtown, presumably in places where the weather or other elements had damaged the pathways.
If you are exploring areas directly to the West of the Milwaukee River, be advised that these sections of the city can be hilly – particularly in the neighborhood known as Brewer’s Hill. There was a set of stairs between Hubbard Street and Commerce Street that prevented me from reaching Lakefront Brewery on the first try and without a significant circular detour.
The Westown, Eastown and Downtown neighborhoods were flat, for the most part. There are a lot of great restaurants, bars and hotels in these areas, and I definitely recommend that wheelchair travelers stay in this area of Milwaukee.
I’d like to mention a great feature of particular benefit to tourists – information signs and guideposts spread throughout the city. These signs kept me headed in the right direction, towards the things I wanted to see.
They also provided background information about the city’s neighborhoods, attractions and history. Better yet – they were easy to spot and read. I wish more cities were equipped with such a substantial array of tourist guides like these.
In all, I was pleased with the accessibility of sidewalks and streets in Milwaukee, and found it to be much more rollable than many other major cities in the Midwest.