Cobblestones are everywhere in Prague, but they aren’t always pitted or uneven. Your ride in a wheelchair won’t be completely smooth, but you won’t often encounter a sidewalk that bounces you around… too much. The cobblestone and tiled sidewalks in Prague are far easier to roll on than the ones you’ll find in cities like Brussels, Belgium.
The photograph above demonstrates the varied nature of the sidewalk surfaces in Prague. The surface stones of the lighter color in this image tend to offer the smoothest path for wheelchairs. A single, standard sidewalk can employ the use of many different types of stones, and you’ll learn quickly which offer the most comfortable roll.
None of the surfaces displayed in this image come anywhere close to the typically rough surfaces in Brussels or Rome.
Pictured above is a typical crosswalk in Prague, complete with a curb cut. Curb cuts in the city rarely have a lip greater than one inch, but there is occasionally one a bit higher. This particular curb cut was even with the street, as is true of the majority of sidewalks in the city.
As with most cities, there are some sidewalks where curb cuts have not yet been installed. Pictured above is one such curb, 4-5 inches in height, and located on a side street with very little vehicle traffic. I rolled in the roadway for a short distance, and the next intersection had a curb cut. As always, when entering an active roadway with your wheelchair, keep your eyes wide open in search of oncoming cars.
During my time in Prague, I was forced to roll on a street on only three occasions. Pretty good, I’d say!
On my second night in Prague, I decided to roll from the Prague Marriott Hotel near the Old Town Square, up to Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. I didn’t use public transportation, instead opting to take the pedestrian route. The primary pedestrian route had many steps, but an alternate route was accessible – sort of.
As you can see in the photograph above, the pathway featured large cobblestones, which made the roll extremely rough. I was bouncing all around. It was also quite steep, and not suited for manual wheelchair users. Power wheelchair users will shake, shimmy and rattle their way up, while eating quite a bit of battery in the process.
This was the only pathway where I encountered cobblestones of this type, other than in a select few squares in the city. It was also the steepest route I took while in Prague, much of which could have been avoided if I had taken a wheelchair accessible tram closer to the Castle.
Regarding the general grade of the city: Most areas are relatively flat. You will encounter steeper terrain when visiting the attractions that are set atop the hills surrounding the city center. Manual wheelchair users will probably need a push in some areas, but powered wheelchairs and scooters will handle it just fine. The central areas of the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are flat.
As wheelchair travelers, we have to deal with barriers presented by both the natural and man-made environments. For the most part, Prague sidewalks are “A-OK” for wheelchair users. When the natural environment presents difficulty, public transportation can typically help you to reach what you’re after in an accessible way. The major exception to this is Prague Castle where, even with the use of public transportation, you’ll likely need help in the form of a push or a short taxi ride to clear the hilltop. Despite these facts, Prague earns a “moderate” rating in my accessibility metric.