Is New York Wheelchair Friendly?: Two Wheels And A Dream

Visiting New York City is a dream for many people. But is it possible if you’re in a wheelchair? 

This article will answer all your questions! But first, you have to get there. 

Are the Airports Wheelchair Friendly in New York City?

Yes! There are three major airports with easy access to NYC. John F. Kennedy International and Laguardia Airport are both in New York City, while Newark-Liberty International Airport is in New Jersey. 

You will want to request disability assistance services through your airline, not the airport.

Kennedy is situated in the borough of Queens and is the largest airport in NYC. Be aware that because of its mammoth size, it can be a long trek through terminals.

Bathrooms are equipped with wheelchair accessible stalls, even private bathrooms at some terminals. Drinking fountains are also equipped for accessibility.

You can plan your visit with the help of their interactive maps.

Laguardia is located in Queens. Laguardia serves only the US and Canada. Though the terminal itself could use an upgrade, facilities are in compliance with ADA regulations.

Newark-Liberty is about fifteen miles outside of the city. All facilities meet the standards of the ADA and the Air Carrier Access Act.

From The Airport

You can request a wheelchair accessible taxi at the taxi stand at all three airports. 

Another palatable option from Laguardia or JFK is a shuttle bus. Wheelchair lifts and securements are available on selected ADA accessible buses. 

The only public transportation available from JFK is the Airtrain, which will transport you to the subway or connect you with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).

There are a number of bus lines available from Laguardia which will take you to Manhattan, Central Queens or to connections for other boroughs.

Are People Friendly in New York City? 

Common wisdom is no, New Yorkers are not nice people. That is just patently not true. 

New Yorkers are in truth, compassionate people. Bystanders are often eager to help with crossing the street or getting up on a curb.

Which often isn’t even an issue, since NYC has nifty little dips at the crosswalks you can roll right down. NYC is a city of people on the go go go so the sidewalks are wide too, allowing plenty of room to navigate, especially in tourist zones.

Just be ready for the occasionally steep incline. Manhattan is mostly flat but has areas of gradual elevation. For example, from the east river to the west side along the avenues. Work your way down from the higher streets, like from MoMa on fifty-third street to Grand Central on forty-second street. 

Is Public Transportation Equipped For Wheelchair Access?

Yes! You have a few options for public transportation in New York City. 


The best option first. All MTA buses are wheelchair equipped with lifts and ramps operated by the driver, plus specific sections on the bus for wheelchairs. 

There are local buses and express buses with fewer stops. It is a good idea to pick up a map of the bus routes. 

Pro Tip! Position yourself so the driver can identify you. 

Access A Ride

The MTA operates a bus especially designated for the wheelchair-bound. It’s called Access-A-Ride. You must call twenty four hours in advance to secure a place. The service is available twenty four hours a day.

Access A Ride buses can arrive anywhere between five minutes early and up to thirty minutes late, depending on the traffic. The ride fare is the same. 


The subway can be tricky. Only certain stations are equipped for disabilities. Fortunately there are accessible stations all around Battery Park and Central Park

Be sure to pick up a subway map. 

Other Forms Of Transportation

If you want to visit Ellis Island or the Statue Of Liberty you will need to board a ferry. If you want to go to Roosevelt Island, you will have to ride the tram. Both are wheelchair equipped. 

Can I Take Taxis?

Yes! NYC has more wheelchair-friendly taxis than anywhere else in the world. Drivers are prohibited from discriminating against customers with disabilities.

Look for one of the taxis with a little wheelchair icon on the hood. Drivers will help you into the vehicle, then fold your wheelchair and put it in the trunk.

What About Hotels and Accomodation?

The best thing you can do to insure wheelchair friendly service at your hotel is inform them in advance!

Many Hotels in New York City are wheelchair friendly and will be happy to provide services when necessary.

Are Tourists Attractions Wheelchair Friendly?

Yes! Most tourist attractions, especially observation decks and museums, are wheelchair accessible. Sometimes you can even skip the queue!

Can I Go See A Ballgame?

Yes! NYC is home to many world famous teams, including the Rangers, the Yankees and The Knicks. Stadiums and performance venues like Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers play, are wheelchair equipped. More information is available on their websites.

Can I See A Broadway Show? 

Yes! Many Broadway theaters have been renovated to be wheelchair accessible. 

What About Restaurants and Nightlife?

In New York City, there are even restaurants operated by wheelchair entrepreneurs, like Contento in East Harlem

What If I Have To Go To The Bathroom?

That’s not an if, that’s a when. Be prepared, wheelchair accessible bathrooms are hard to find. Sometimes the companion care bathrooms are your best shot. 

Are There Discounts For Disabled People?

Yes! There is a reduced fare MTA card available for disabled riders.

How Do I Rent A Wheelchair?

You can rent simple or motorized wheelchairs, from private companies or some pharmacies. 

Topped Off With Some Tips

  1. Plan your journey. 
  2. Avoid bringing a car. 
  3. Provide advance notice where you can. 

In conclusion, there is no reason being in a wheelchair should disable you from visiting the greatest city on Earth!