The sidewalks of Riga, Latvia vary substantially with respect to their wheelchair accessibility depending on the part of town you’re exploring. Sidewalks in modern areas, like those around the Freedom Monument, National Museum of Art and the National Opera are fantastic, whereas the sidewalk-less streets in the old town near attractions like the Swedish Gate and Three Brothers are extremely challenging for wheelchair users to navigate.
The Old Town shows its age — with cobblestones. Wheelchair users are in for a bumpy ride, as many cobbled streets lack sidewalks and those that do exist are often extremely narrow and lacking curb ramps. I managed to traverse the Old Town with my power wheelchair and I won’t sugarcoat it — it was uncomfortable and I often paused to take a rest break. Thankfully, these streets are closed to most vehicular traffic and you don’t need to be in a hurry. Buckle up, because you won’t want to miss Riga’s most historic core.
Outside the Old Town, it’s a different world for sidewalk accessibility. Most of the city’s modern sidewalks are fairly smooth, with level paving stones, bricks or cement surfaces. Major intersections in the modern touristic areas of the city feature crosswalks with curb ramps, crossing signals and in some places tactile surfaces for the blind. There were some areas of concern, but I managed to avoid obstacles and enjoyed rolling about Riga’s modern city center. The city is largely flat, however there were some curb ramps that were steep, posing potential challenges to manual wheelchair users.
In a few areas, there are subterranean tunnels that allow pedestrians to cross underneath roadways. While some of these are equipped with elevators, they do not always function. Underground crossings that lack ramps or elevators can generally be bypassed by selecting a longer route.