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Damien's Blog

How Accessible is Las Vegas?

By Damien Patton, (592 words) Posted in Corporate on October 12, 2009
There are (83) comments permalink

For years I have heard how accessible and friendly Las Vegas is to those with physical disabilities. I have always taken for granted that we live in a place that is one of the vacation capitals of the world that has made public accessibility a priority.

A good friend of mine who uses a motorized wheel chair for transportation due to Cerebral Palsy comes to town once a year for a technical conference. For ease of access, she always stays at a hotel near the convention center. Last year I remember her blogging or Tweeting about having a difficult time getting transportation to one of the off–site parties.

This year, my friend and I wanted to surprise her husband, who also has Cerebral Palsy and uses a motorized wheel chair, with a day at the Las Vegas speedway riding in a NASCAR racecar. We thought the biggest challenge would be getting the race schools to grant us a waiver because of the physical limitations of the passenger. After a few weeks of gathering information and getting to the right person, this was actually not that difficult and the Richard Petty Driving Experience welcomed us. Since we are going tomorrow, I will more than likely have a full blog about this on Wednesday based on our experience.

Finding transportation to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which is about 30 to 45 minutes north of the Vegas strip, turned out to be the biggest challenge of all. I actually assumed this would be the easiest part of the trip since Vegas is "accessible" to everyone. Oh, how I was wrong, very wrong. After the first couple of days of calling rental car companies, taxi cabs, city transportation, etc., I could start to get a sense of what my friends must go through everyday. The rental van companies had rules of 3 day minimum rentals. The taxis could only accommodate one wheelchair and therefore we would have to pay for 2 taxis instead of one. Other companies were simply "sold out" and kind of blamed me for not planning sooner. Imagine getting to the airport taxi line being told you should have planned sooner and reserved a taxi because they are all sold out. "Sold out" should be a clue that we need more vehicles for Las Vegas! Next, the city "accessible" transportation said they only went out to the speedway for race events and there was no option of renting or paying for their time. I could go on and on and document the dozens of calls we made and the rude people who lacked any empathy, but by now you get the point.

The solution, I rented a trailer for my truck so we can transport their wheelchairs out to the speedway. A friend will drive the truck and I will have them ride in my car. This worked out for the best since our friend wanted a NASCAR experience and riding in my new Mercedes 63 AMG will be an experience in itself. For my friends who have driven with me, they know the ride out there might be the perfect warm–up for the 165 MPH track. Hence the reason I have to get new tires for my car every 3000 miles, but that is a different story.

At the end of the day I am not sure what can be done to make accessible transportation more of a priority in Las Vegas but you can bet that I will be digging into it. Mayor Goodman's office will be hearing from us with this particular experience and those of others that I have started to gather. If we are going to welcome everyone to Las Vegas, then everyone needs to stand for everyone!

Icon: author blog About the Author:
Damien is the Founder and CEO of FindAnyFloor.com as well as several other technolgy businesses specializing in social media and search.
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