Gordon Knopp photo
LONG BEACH — Three beach wheelchairs are available for use in the city of Long Beach.
More than 50 people have already taken advantage of the wheelchairs since the chairs became available, but many citizens are still unaware of the opportunity.
Individuals come from considerable distances to Long Beach. City officials say that going out on the beach is an experience that should be available to everyone, regardless of physical limitations. The beach wheelchairs are designed with “fat balloon tires” to provide easy access and mobility on the sand.
“Everybody should be able to stick their toes in the sand if they’ve got toes and be able to experience what anybody else coming to the ocean would want to experience,” said Ragan Myers, tourism and events coordinator for the city of Long Beach.
The beach wheelchair program was initiated by city councilor Holli Kemmer two years ago. Myers took over leadership of the wheelchair program last winter and has been working to get the word out to the public.
“I feel like we definitely need a lot more push that we have it available,” Myers said of the city-owned assets.
There are two PVC manual chairs at the Rodeway Inn & Suites, one for an adult and one for a child. The third wheelchair is motorized and is housed at the World Kite Museum.
Getting the chance to hear personal stories from users of the wheelchairs is what keeps Myers inspired.
A couple traveling across the country from Wisconsin were able to use the beach wheelchair after Myers approached them one afternoon. The couple suggested there should be signs advising of the beach wheelchairs posted near handicap parking spots. Myers took the suggestion to heart and initiated the signs.
Metal signs advertising the beach wheelchairs and their locations were put up this July in front of handicap parking spots near the Sid Snyder beach approach, the Bolstad beach approach and off Oregon Avenue.
There is no charge to use a wheelchair and only a valid ID is required to sign one out.
“The right thing to do, in my heart of hearts, is to get people to the beach,” Myers said.
The communities of Seaside, Cannon Beach and Gearhart also now offer beach wheelchairs.