Tourist Information Guide

An Interview with Cosmoscooter (Scooter and Wheelchair Hire Company) With Advice for Tourists With A Disability

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A Cosmo Scooter
A Cosmo Scooter
We have been told on numerous occasions that Barcelona is a well adapted city to enjoy as a tourist if you use a wheelchair or motorised scooter. We decided to research this further. We met with Victor and Ximena - a business partnership offering the rental of scooters and wheelchairs for tourists to Barcelona. They were helpful in offering tips, advice and insider information on how to navigate Barcelona as a wheelchair or scooter user.

This article includes information about Cosmoscooter, advice on planning a trip to Barcelona with a wheelchair, the pros and cons of Barcelona as a wheelchair accessible city and links to other information sources.

Could you tell me how Cosmoscooter came into existence?

Ximena & Victor - Cosmo Scooter Barcelona
Ximena & Victor - Cosmo Scooter Barcelona

Ximena and I are from Mexico. Ximena moved to Barcelona six years ago and I came to visit her. As a person with a disability who uses a scooter I found that the city was well adapted to my needs. Small details such as easy to handle ramps to sidewalks and adapted buses gave me independence.

Victor and I both felt that the city itself was well adapted for a traveller with a disability, however, the services available for those wishing to visit the city were harder to find. We checked to see whether there was a service in the city for those wishing to rent scooters or wheelchairs and realised that this was not available. We found our niche in the market.

What sort of service does CosmoScooter offer?

As a person with a disability myself I felt confident that I could understand the needs of our customers to a more in-depth level. For us this is not simply a business - it is an opportunity to provide as complete a service as possible for scooter and wheelchair users. We provide a wide range of vehicles (detailed below) and ensure that we offer as much help to our customers as possible. I have even been to the Ramblas at 02:00 in the morning to pick up a customer with a flat tyre and escort her back to her hotel.

Could you provide some advice regarding transport for the traveller with a disability in the city?

In Barcelona all of the buses are adapted. They have ramps that are easy to use as they come out a long way from the bus. This is one of the most convenient ways to get around the city.

Currently, about fifty percent of the Metro underground system is adapted. This is a work in progress and is always improving. Some lines are better than others. For example, all of the purple line is adapted and some of the red line is adapted. The yellow line is the worst line and you should definitely avoid this line for now.

If you plan on using a train to head outside of Barcelona this requires more forward planning. It will depend on which station you will be arriving to as to what they will have to do when you get there. It is best to telephone RENFE before you make the trip and tell them what you are planning. They will normally request that you arrive at the station 30 minutes before the train departs. This will give them the chance to call the station where you will be alighting so that they have preparations in place to help you to get off the train.

What tourist attractions in Barcelona are particularly accessible for limited mobility visitors?

In general, many of Barcelona's tourist attractions are accessible. I have found that practically all of Barcelona's tourist attractions are a viable option for me. I recently went to a football match at Camp Nou, where they have an area allocated for customers with a disability. I also went to a concert at the Apolo the other night. I often find that it is easier if you call ahead and let the venue know that you are coming and they are always helpful.

I am impressed with the way in which the beach has been adapted for wheelchair and scooter users. There are wooden walkways on the beach that lead close to the water's edge. On certain beaches, such as Icària, there is also a service offered by the Red Cross. They have special chairs known as the 'Aquatic Seat' - wheelchair users are taken to the water by two qualified lifeguards who will spend up to thirty minutes with you in the water.

Are there any areas of difficulty for wheelchair and scooter users in the city?

One of the biggest problems that I have found as a Scooter user in Barcelona is the bathrooms for people with a disability. In many of the older buildings there is not enough space to manoeuvre in the toilets. In other establishments there is a bathroom for people with a disability, however there is no ramp or lift to get into the building. When I am in the town centre I know a few of the larger establishments with suitable toilets. These include the Maremagnum on the port, the Corte Inglés and FNAC in Plaça de Catalunya.

Also, if you are going to somewhere such as a museum or concert hall that says that it has a lift, it is important to contact them in advance. Many stair lifts are not large enough to accommodate a larger model of wheelchair or scooter. It is worth checking before going to the venue as to whether your model will fit on the lift provided. An example of a museum where I struggled was MNAC - The Museum of Catalan Art.

What other services can assist the visitor with a disability?

There is a book called 'Barcelona Sobre Ruedas' ('Barcelona On Wheels') giving advice on services in Barcelona for wheelchair and scooter users. Unfortunately I think it is only available in Spanish. However, if you can speak Spanish it is useful.

Another really useful service who CosmoScooter work in conjunction with, is Accessible Barcelona. This service will organise all of the various aspects of your trip to Barcelona - they find suitable accommodation, arrange tours and recommend suitable places to go with a wheelchair or scooter.

There is also a taxi company that offers special access ramps and is wheelchair and scooter friendly - Taxi Amic. The website is useful and it is available in English, as well as Catalan and Castellano.

How would you describe Barcelona from the point of view of a scooter user?

When I came to Barcelona I did not feel like a person with a disability. I feel independent and am always treated the same as everybody else. I always feel safe on the streets of Barcelona. People are friendly and helpful - if the ramp breaks on the bus people always come out and help the driver to help me onto the bus.

I have two groups of fans here in Barcelona. Old people and children - they always want a ride on my scooter!

Cosmo Scooter
Passatge Maiol, 1
08013 Barcelona, España.

+34 690 845 574

E-mail: [email protected]

Vehicles available for hire at CosmoScooter:

Rio3 (3 wheel scooter)
(L x W x H) 38" x 21" x 35"
Max Load weight 18 stone/ 115 kg, 250 pounds.
Cruising range: 7 miles maximum.

Rio4 (4 wheel scooter)
(L x W x H) 38" x 21 " x 35"
Max Load weight 18 stone/ 115 kg, 250 pounds.
Cruising range: 7 miles maximum.

Monami-Bear (4 wheel scooter)
(L x W x H) 49" x 23" x 37"
Max Load weight 21 stone/ 135 kg, 297 pounds.
Cruising range: 20 miles maximum.

Jet 3 Ultra Power chair
(L x W) 38" x 23"
Max Load weight 21 stone/ 135 kg, 297 pounds.
Cruising range: 20 miles maximum.

Jazzy 1170 Power chair
(L x W) 46" x 31"
Max Load weight 32 stone/ 204 kg, 450 pounds.
Cruising range: 20 miles maximum.

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