Side-Entry Handicap Vans
How it works:
With most side-entry handicap van models, the floor is lowered from in front of the rear wheel to underneath the dashboard. A ramp is installed that deploys from the bottom of the passenger-side sliding door. The center seats are removed to allow access for the wheelchair or scooter.
Maneuvering inside the handicap van:
Typically, both front seats are built with a quick-release pedestal allowing you to remove one or both seats for ambulatory or wheelchair access to the front driver position, the front passenger position or both. Up to three wheelchairs may be secured in a side-entry handicap van.
The side-entry minivan allows easy access to the center of the vehicle as well as to the front driver or passenger positions. It provides more maneuverability inside the vehicle and allows the user to turn around and face forward while entering and exiting the vehicle.
Better safety is also a benefit since entry is done from the passenger side, not in the traffic lane in parking lots. And when parallel-parking, the entry is done from the curb-side of the vehicle instead of the street.
Also, since the rear of the vehicle remains unmodified, you retain the rear seat bench as well as the storage space behind the rear sofa for groceries or luggage.
Find a side-entry handicap van for sale near you.
Side Entry Handicap Vans are Ideal for City Living with Limited Mobility
If you live in an urban environment and you (or a family member) rely on a scooter or wheelchair, you’re probably better off looking at side-entry handicap vans. That’s not to say a rear-entry vehicle might not meet your needs. It’s just that vans that are accessible from the side are generally better suited to city life and circumstances.
Modifications for Side Entry Handicap Vans
Conversion to side entry handicap vans begins with lowering the chassis floor several inches. The drop usually extends from just in front of the rear wheel axle up to the dashboard. This ensures adequate headroom for someone seated inside in a wheelchair or scooter. The center row of seats is removed to create space for entry, exiting and maneuvering.
Next, the access equipment is installed. If you’re getting a ramp, you’ll select either a fold-out or an in-floor model. The former stows vertically inside the door; the latter slides in and out of a compartment in the floor. Various platform lifts may be used instead of ramps, too. Quick-release mechanisms are hooked up to the front driver’s and front passenger’s seats. This permits wheelchair access to the front. The rear row seating and rear storage space remain unaffected by modifications.
Why Side Entry Handicap Vans for City Living?
The greatest advantage of side-entry handicap vans in the city is that they allow for curbside access. Often, you parallel park on the street in an urban area. If there’s a vehicle parked close behind you, rear-entry vans don’t work. Sometimes, convenient parking isn’t even available in the city. On these occasions, you may need to get in or out of the van quickly while temporarily pulled over by the curb. Again, this is far more practical with side-entry capabilities.
People with disability-or age-related limited mobility in the city are also more likely to know and go out with others who also rely on scooters or wheelchairs. Vans converted for side entry offer greater capacity for multiple mobility aids. They can safely transport up to three people in scooters or wheelchairs. This facilitates the socialization and group participation in cultural and public activities that draws people to urban life in the first place.