More and more Los Angeles County beaches are adding access mats on the sand to expand accessibility for those using wheelchairs and other assisted transportation.
“The mats are great,” said Pono Barnes, ocean rescue specialist for the LA County Fire Department. “It brought a lot of people to the beach who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to access it so easily.”
The mats, made from synthetic mesh that allows sand to pass through, create a firmer surface on the sand. No special wheelchairs or other equipment is required to use the mats.
Beach access mats are available at the following locations:
- Dockweiler State Beach
- manhattan beach
- Marina Beach “Mother”
- Topanga Beach
- Torrance Beach
- Venice Beach (available from April to October)
- Will Rogers State Beach
- Zuma Beach (available from April to October)
Long Beach will install access mats at Granada Beach, Alamitos Beach and Mother’s Beach next week.
The LA County Beaches and Harbors Department has also made beach wheelchairs available free of charge at many county beaches.
A list of locations with available beach wheelchairs can be found here.
Kristy Bernal used to get in the water and hold her 16-year-old son, Zachary, who uses a wheelchair, on beach outings.
The Whittier family said beach wheelchairs have been a huge change for special needs.
Her son’s wheelchair struggles to move in the sand. With the beach wheelchair, Zachary can walk across the beach and even experience going in the water.
“It’s so easy to cross the sand,” Bernal said. “You go into the water, and (the chair) just goes with the water. It doesn’t take you into it.”
Wheelchairs cut through sand without sinking thanks to their larger, wider wheels, Barnes explained.
Although Bernal appreciates the ease of use of wheelchairs, she wishes the chairs were more accessible.
“It would be really great if the beaches had it next to their aid stations or all the other aid stations,” Bernal said. “I guarantee they would be used multiple times a day.”
Click on here to learn more about beach access services.
For any questions, call (424) 526-7842.