Tips for cobblestone and bumpy surfaces in a wheelchair

  • Tips for cobblestone and bumpy surfaces in a wheelchair

    Posted by Josh Grisdale on September 27, 2023 at 11:59 am

    Does anyone have some tips or advice for dealing with cobblestone (or other bumpy surfaces) in a wheelchair?

    We don’t really have much cobblestone in Japan (though there is some!), many temples and shrines have pathways made of large stones. It doesn’t bother my backside too much, but I find my feet frequently fall off my footrests!

    So, I’m thinking of carrying a belt with me and tying down my feet next time.

    Any other ideas?

    samuelwilliams replied 1 month, 1 week ago 9 Members · 13 Replies
  • 13 Replies
  • HAL

    September 27, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Generally speaking, pedestrian promenade may heve cobblestone and/or bupy palces.

    And they are not friendly with wheelchair as well as baby buggy and skateboards.

    Design may have priority for those who create town design who is not concern about ” Universal Design”

  • Patty

    September 27, 2023 at 5:07 pm

    I can remember being in the city of Bath recently and they have lots of cobblestones, my feet also kept falling off the footplates😠. I also had to keep readjusting myself in my chair (thank goodness I have strong arms) so that made it a little more bearable but I’m sorry Josh I have no absolute solution to your problem in Japan

  • alliejay

    September 27, 2023 at 9:05 pm

    I don’t have any good answers for this one. My issue is the front wheels (smaller) get caught in between the stones and I feel like my whole chair will topple over. Sometimes, if there is a sidewalk that helps, but that’s not always available…

  • Carlos

    October 2, 2023 at 6:13 am

    Normally, my chair goes about 7MPH. When I get to cobblestones, I slow down to average walking speed.

    If the cobblestones are near a very old part of town, I don’t worry about it. But, if the pavement is bumpy near modern-day development, I find that ridiculous.

  • Geordie Travels

    October 6, 2023 at 9:09 am

    I recently saw someone suggest going over backwards. I know this might not be possible for those in powered chairs, and could even be too tricky for those in manual chairs too, but I do see the logic in it and I might give it a go myself next time I am faced with a cobbled street (which will likely be tomorrow seeing as my own street is cobbled 🙃).

    • Carlos

      October 6, 2023 at 9:19 am

      How would you go backward for several hundred feet? You can’t go backward for long distances.

    • Geordie Travels

      October 6, 2023 at 9:29 am

      Well I guess some can – those that are lucky enough to be able to look over their shoulder (I can’t).

    • Josh Grisdale

      October 6, 2023 at 9:32 am

      Interesting! Might be good for short spurts etc.

      I guess this is an area where those front-wheel drive power wheelchairs would have an advantage..

    • Geordie Travels

      October 6, 2023 at 9:39 am

      Probably! I think what would be handy about going backwards in a manual chair is that you don’t get that heart-stopping moment where your small caster wheels get jammed in a gap in the cobbles. My chair doesn’t have a seatbelt and I can’t tell you the amount of times that my wheelchair has come to an unexpected halt and my body, well… just hasn’t 🤣

      I forgot to mention the way that I actually approach cobblestones… I usually tip myself back onto two wheels and ‘wheelie’ my way slowly across the cobbles. I know that this is not advisable though 😝

  • trumpet33

    October 15, 2023 at 5:37 am

    If you’re lucky enough to have someone who can help push your manual chair…my hubby tilts me back so I’m on my rear wheels only. Then he pushes me through the tough parts of the cobblestone. Works pretty good. It’s the only solution we’ve come up with so far.

    • samuelwilliams

      October 26, 2023 at 4:09 pm

      Hey there @trumpet33, thanks so much for sharing that tip about tilting back on the rear wheels when going over cobblestones! 😮 I never would have thought of that, but it seems like a really clever solution. I’ll have to try tilting back on the wheels next time I take my wife on some bumpy section.

  • Laura

    October 16, 2023 at 5:45 am

    We just spent 38 days in iconic European cities that were mostly cobblestone. There are a couple of ways to make them easier(though never great). You can add a freewheel to the front of your chair to lift the front casters off the ground. People often add a SmartDrive motor as well and we know of many people who have successfully used this combination. We used a device out of Canada called a Companion. It’s a lightweight device that you easily attach to the front of your wheelchair (with a special bracket) that lifts the front casters up and acts as a motor. The advantage of the Companion is that it’s safer since the attachment looks like a very streamlined scooter, so it’s very difficult (or maybe impossible?) to fall forward out of your chair. It can quickly and easily be removed (it has its own automatic kickstand when not attached), and has great battery life. We found it invaluable on our trip. Having said all that, cobblestones will still beat you up, but they can be managed.

    • Josh Grisdale

      October 19, 2023 at 3:17 pm

      Thank you! True, no matter what, they’ll still beat us up 😛

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