Friday, October 03, 2008

Paris in a wheelchair


Despite its claim to be disabled friendly, Paris is not exactly a heaven for people with reduced mobility. Scooters and motorbikes are often parked on sidewalks and block the way, the metro is not accessible to wheelchairs - very few buses are - public phones require to stand, ATMs also, etc. Much worse, socially, disabled people are not very well integrated. That is the reason why when I saw this cute little lady riding the streets of Paris in her wheelchair on a rainy day, I thought to myself, "Gee, this one has some guts!". FYI, here is an excellent guidebook for people in wheelchairs who want to move around Paris. It was made in 2003, but I'm sure not much has changed since then.

52 comments:

  1. What a brave lady. It sure takes guts to ride the streets of Paris in a car let alone a wheelchair!

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  2. I love how you continue to keep reminding us of this issue. Well done. And what cafe is that?

    And how did sue slip in front of me?

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  3. jeff, i'm so chuffed! I can't believe it myself.

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  4. Oh that is so sad :(
    You go little lady!

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  5. Eric, It tool decades for Chicago to become disabled friendly, but there's still more to be done. I've spent lots of time on the Paris Metro and don't believe that it can ever be made accessible for the disabled. Buses on the other hand are much easier to make disabled friendly. This a a great photo - I really appreciate seeing street scenes that capture life in Paris (sans the ET of course).

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  6. I don"t think it is sad, I think it is a life enhancing picture! Look at how clever her wheelchair is, and I love the umbrella. She obviously went to Nicolas for some wine.
    Gf "requires" 2 full lines on the pix--so that is ME! You are first, Sue, but I am GF!!!!!!

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  7. OOPs, Jeff is GF, I know, because I made the rules, lol.And David slipped in when I was writing my little bit of hubris.

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  8. Est-ce que sue n'a pas deux phrases? Merci, mon ami, mai je pense sue et GF aujourd'ui.

    (Right or wrong, phx, I did not use a translator that time!)

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  9. David - "sans the ET" - ? Wash your mouth out with soap! ;^)

    Eric, great photo and a very hot topic indeed. I can see what you mean about the scooters on the sidewalk blocking her path. I'm sure you don't do that!

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  10. Great that you took this photo Eric. I remember being quite shocked when you told us before how the disabled are left out of things in Paris. I wonder why? Why Paris in particular?

    There's more of the Bande a part film by the way (Lois or others) in a link I left in yesterday's comments.

    I hope this lady didn't get wet.

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  11. Ok, ok, I knew something was wrong! Je n'ai pas raison: "aujourd'hui"

    Ok, I am listening to French instructions in my car now, but not reading it. If this woman can brave traffic in a wheelchair, I can learn more French!

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  12. Eiffel Tower Suzy: Ouch! A thousand pardons. :>)

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  13. Bravo for the women determined not to let her life be restricted, and to you Eric to remind us all that we need to be thinking of others!

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  14. I wonder just how many cities are truly disabled friendly. At least Paris tries and it even has a guide book. Our cities don't even bother. I haven't seen anyone in a wheelchair on the streets of Metro Manila in years!

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  15. How sweet of you to highlight her today. That is one fabulous umbrella ... be sure to enlarge!

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  16. "Disabled French(speakers)?" Oh, that would probably be Jeff and me, but I'm voting for Jeff in the 2012 Presidential elections anyway. He does have international experience with French cuisine. That's got to count for something. As for this lady, I think she kicks derriere sur les rues de Paris. Good for her! Vrroom! Outta the way tourists...I'm shifting into 3rd.

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  17. It's a very thoughtful picture - she seems simultaneously vulnerable and strong. And because of that, she is the picture of bravery.

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  18. How great that there is a guidebook to help those who need to get around in wheelchairs in Paris. However if it's from 2003 it problaby needs some up to date, cause I'm sure Paris has more options for the disable, hopefully.

    Eric I didn't have the chance to write yesterday, so I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your new website. It looks cool!!!
    Congratulations on another project well done and all your hard work!!!

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  19. PHX I replied you email, hope you got it.

    Rose, Lynn and Guille, I replied you too. Just saying it here cause lateley the communication hasn't been very effective..!

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  20. I live in a suburb of Vancouver, Canada, and the current mayor of the city, Sam Sullivan, is in a wheelchair, so around here, we're pretty aware of the challenges faced by people with mobility issues. For example, many of our buses "kneel" so that people in wheelchairs can wheel right on, most curbs have "let downs" for the same reason, all public buildings (including schools) are supposed to have ramps, etc. But then, we're a relatively young part of the world, so I suppose it's easier to put some of this into place when the oldest building is probably not even 100 years old.

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  21. I lived in Croissy-sur-Seine, a suburb west of Paris and also rented an apartment on Boulevard Haussman during my twenties, and never remember seeing a single handicapped person. I visited my Father recently in Rueil-Malmaison, also a suburb, and the idea that the handicapped should not be seen, still seems to prevail. I don't really understand why, except that they don't look as good in the latest fashions. Where are they?

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  22. bless your beautiful heart Eric for writing about this.
    New York is similar with regard to the disabled. Though they have been changes, they are coming about slowly.
    You are oh so right, this lady does have guts and I hope somehow she sees herself in your post. She should know that people are seeing her with admiration.

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  23. oops!-...Though there have been changes...

    & congrats on GF Sue!

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  24. Love, love, love the NICOLAS bag on the back of the scooter! A woman after my own heart! God Bless her!! ;-)

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  25. It's probably difficult for the elderly to traverse those subway steps, let alone the disabled. But then again, isn't it the same in NYC?

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  26. I love that she has a nicolas bag on the back...maybe it was wine for an important dinner party for family and friends.

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  27. I thought by now there'd be a joke about drinking and driving, but alas, no. Good for her ability to get out and do things, no matter the conditions. I've got two good legs and sometimes can't get my butt moving.

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  28. Thank you for showing her dignity and spunk. She made a statement and you helped to broadcast it far and wide. What an informative and sensitive post.

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  29. Coltrane lives, I've only just seen that you left a very kind comment on my novel blog, Under A Train, back in May! That was when I became unwell and I've been mainly out of the loop since then. So sorry, didn't mean to ignore it though and thanks very much for the encouragement!

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  30. That's a huge problem in Paris...It's impossible to take the metro (except line 1 and 14) when you are in a whellchair. There are so many stairs, gaps, doors. Our buses "kneel" too, I was sure that they were all accessible to wheelchairs, but maybe I was wrong. This lady is brave, really. She probably didn't have the choice...

    The facts are sad, but your picture, Eric, is pretty funny! The Nicolas bag (wine shop) is more than a detail.
    Michael, there is French saying that you probably know: boire ou conduire, il faut choisir! No offence.

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  31. I'm glad you pointed out that Nicolas is a wine shop Guille, I kind of guessed because of the comments, but I wasn't sure! Unknown in England. I like the drink driving slogan; memorable.

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  32. Eric~~~What a lovely picture. It touches my heart to know you care about the disabled and that all the other PDPers show they care as well by the comments they have been leaving. I'm sure we all have a friend or relative in a wheelchair, so it is nice when they can go where we go and do the same things we enjoy doing. And yes, I have a son who is in a wheelchair because of a work related accident 29 years ago. He and his family go just about anywhere when they vacation and have a great time. But that is here in the States where most places are wheelchair accessible.

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  33. I like the saying, Guille. I use a translator, and it talks to me! Try this:

    http://translation2.paralink.com/lowres.asp

    When it gives you the translation, little megaphones appear. If you click on it, a cyber-person appears and speaks the translation in the language you chose. It does help my pronunciation. You must try the French: a hot cyber babe appears. It cracks me up every time.

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  34. Count on Eric to always keep important issues in the public eye. One of the many reasons I love this place!

    Not too terribly long ago there was a bit too-do over a certain sidewalk in a very heavy traffic area not being wheelchair accessible. It was a huge issue because it's the law that public places be accessible to those who are less-abled yet the department of transportation didn't feel like footing the bill to fix the sidewalk, which had led to a few serious injuries.

    I'm sure in a city as old as Paris it can be hard to make everything accessible to everyone, but that definitely shouldn't keep the government from trying!!!

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  35. Lynn, you're welcome. You must continue to pursue it with passion. You've certainly the talent.

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  36. I think the UK is slightly more eaiser to navigate than Paris for the diabled, but only just.

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  37. Jeff, the translation site is cool. I finally figured it out, but before I had a French lady speaking English with a French accent. I think Guille might have a second job... ;-)

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  38. BREAKING NEWS! M. et Mme. Benaut have re-surfaced and are back downunder!

    Adelaide Daily Photo

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  39. Er...Michael, I already have a second job: to entertain you! It works, right? :p

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  40. I wish that all government officials could spend one "day in the life" in a wheelchair. Going to meetings, grabbing lunch, catching a cab. I think a lot of funding would get diverted to accessibility issues the day afterwards. Thanks for reminding us.

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  41. Oh yeah, I forgot Guille. I should give you a promotion because you do it so well.

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  42. I imagine that one who must use a wheelchair to get around develops there own system of doing things, just as one who is born with dwarfism must learn to live in a world that was made for taller people. Some places are better equipped for those who are physically different, and some are not.

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  43. Hey Michael, could you hire me too? I could use such a wonderful job!

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  44. I love the Nicolas bag :-) My mother can walk, but has limited mobility and I have traveled to Paris with her several times. Getting around can sometimes be a challenge. The last time we were there, we took taxis everywhere because she simply couldn't do the stairs in the metro. On one of our trips we were having a bite on the main level of a restaurant that featured a lively bar with a show upstairs (up a narrow staircase, I might add). At one point we witnessed a young man in a wheelchair being carried, chair and all, up those stairs by a boisterous bunch. We commented to each other that if you're going to be disabled in Paris, it pays to have good friends!!!

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  45. What a great idea to make a book like that. I think all cities should offer something like that. At least, all large cities. Instead of having regular touring books mark the things easily accessed by those with mobility challenges, make a book specifically FOR them. I love it. Kudos to whoever thought of it.

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