Google Maps Will Show Wheelchair Accessibility Info in London and Other World Cities

By Tom Pritchard on at

I don't know what it's like to have to use a wheelchair, but it's obvious that there are plenty of routes in London (especially on public transport) that aren't anywhere close to wheelchair friendly. Google Maps is now doing what it can, adding a filter so people can opt for wheelchair accessible routes when they're planning their trips.

The new filter is going to go live in London, Sydney, New York, Tokyo, Boston, and Mexico City, hitting the web-version before rolling out onto Android and iOS. The information in London will include the Underground, buses, DLR, trams, but not the Overground which is due to be added at a later date.

While this is good news for anyone needing wheelchair access in London, disability groups have warned Google that the information needs to be kept accurate and up to date if it's going to be any help. Alan Benson, chair of disability access group Transport for All said:

"Getting around the London network on a restricted basis takes a lot of knowledge and confidence, something that I have built up over many years. For someone that does not have that knowledge it can be quite daunting. However having accessibility information in an app the same as everyone else is great.

The problem is however that the information is not entirely accurate.

The wrong information is worse than no information. If you don't have any information you won't take the journey. The wrong information will destroy people's confidence."

He noted that the lifts in Brixton underground station are due to be out of service until September, and this information isn't mentioned on Google Maps. Google has promised, however, that accessibility information can be directly added to Maps by locals with direct knowledge.

It's a useful tool for anyone with mobility issues, such as wheelchair users, but there's still a lot that can be done to make life easier - especially in London. Only 72 of the 270 underground stations offer wheelchair access, and as BBC News points out only 50 of those offer independent access. [BBC News]

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