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In the spirit of the Summer Holidays, we’d like to take you on an (online) journey to the city of Breda in the South Netherlands. Recently voted “The Access City” Award 2019, we wanted to see exactly what makes this place such an example for disabled-access across the world. Read on below!

The city of Breda in Holland doesn’t, on paper, strike us as the sort of place that would be ideal for disabled-access.

A fortified-town during the Medieval Ages, this normally spells disaster for accessibility. As Simon & Garfunkel once put it; “Narrow streets of Cobblestone”..!

But, despite its heritage, the city has made a fantastic effort at not only modernising, but optimising itself for people with access issues. 

(Best of all, they even managed to retain the city’s ‘Olde Worlde’ charm in the process..!)

In the main areas around the marketplace and Church the old cobblestones have been pulled up, sliced sideways, and relaid.

The result?

Pathways which remain charmingly old-world, but are flat as a pancake; a god-send for anyone with mobility concerns!

Not only the public pathways, but much of the city’s public transport has been optimised for wheelchair access, saving local residents and tourists on having to fork out the Euros each time for specialised taxis.

It’s something few city Councils seem to realise, but optimising their towns for access is not only something they should be doing out of respect for equal rights, but also something which is economically hugely beneficial to them.

By opening up their pathways and shops, Breda’s local economy is finally able to cater to the Disabled market, allowing anyone & everyone to have access to their facilities to enjoy their services and spend their money.

It really is win-win for everyone involved!

Breda’s journey to the 2019 “Access City” Award has, of course, taken time. And we must appreciate that this is the same for every town & city.

‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.

But, by setting the standards so high, Breda is showing other City Councils not only that such change is possible, but also greatly beneficial.

Hopefully in due time, we will start seeing cities and towns across the world optimising themselves for Inclusion, and all vying for the coveted title of “most accessible” city in the world. 

In a society where the needs & concerns of the disabled are not always taken into account, Breda shines as a fantastic example of how a city can be optimised for access, without harming its history, and providing mutual benefit both for those with mobility impairments & those without. 

Here’s to Breda! 

  1. If you’ve recently visited a city with great Accessibility options, we’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment on our Social channels using the links below!