by Cindy McCoy

When New Mobility researched friendly cities, we looked for the things that really count when wheels are your constant companion: affordable and accessible housing, transportation, quality medical care, personal assistance services and strong advocacy. With these assets, crime rates may be negotiable.

We began with the front-runners from other lists, then used telephone interviews and surveys to sound out independent living centers and local residents. Each city was given a numerical rating based on quality of services and environmental factors. Using these ratings, a new order emerges:

First Place:

Though not found on anyone else’s list, Denver (pop. 468,000 plus almost 1 million people living in adjacent counties) is our No. 1 pick as America’s most wheelchair-friendly city. It offers a multitude of services and conveniences, a fully accessible mainline metro transportation system and exceptionally strong advocacy. There are two CILs–Denver CIL and Atlantis Community–and ADAPT is headquartered here.

Denver has history on its side: Years ago, ADAPT made accessible buses their business. The result of its efforts is inclusion. The paratransit door-to-door service runs about 23 hours a day, seven days a week, with no limit on number of rides. There are conflicting reports on the service’s dependability–a recent Denver Post story reports no-shows and customer dissatisfaction, while firsthand reports from Denver denizen Mark Able suggest uncommon reliability. Personal assistance programs are available, medical facilities are plentiful, and Craig Hospital has terrific support services for people with head or spinal cord injuries.

Look to Denver also for a wide range of recreational and cultural activities: peerless adaptive sports, both integrated and disability-specific arts programs, active ballet and theater, a symphony orchestra and two opera com