Rīga beaches not fully accessible to disabled people

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The Rīga municipality has recently been upgrading its beaches and fitting them with facilities. However, the "Apeirons" association of disabled people is pointing out that there are currently no beaches in Riga that have been fully developed for people with reduced mobility, Latvian Radio reported July 20.

There are three official beaches on the coast within the Latvian capital's city limits: Vecāķi, Daugavgrīva, and Vakarbuļļi. The other official inland bathing areas are at Lucavsala, Ķīpsala, Rumbula and Babīte. The development of all bathing areas is ongoing and the facilities available vary greatly.

The local government's efforts have been monitored by the Apeirons association, which noted that there is at least one element in all locations meant for people with disabilities. However, there are no bathing areas where everything is available, said Jurģis Briedis, an environmental availability expert.

"If there's not all [the whole set], you can't really stay. If there is a parking lot, a toilet, and a dock, [but] no dressing [rooms] and showers, there is no full set. It should be a single standard for beaches."

Briedis believes Lucavsala is the best-developed location, but even it lacks a shower suitable for disabled use. The head of the Social Affairs Committee of the City Council, Viesturs Kleinbergs, said that it is very difficult to install showers in Lucavsala and therefore they will not be installed. In general, the municipality tries to improve two beaches per year. It could take several years.

“At the moment, attention has been paid to this, but yes, the funds are, unfortunately, limited, but we will gradually [develop the beaches],” Kleinbergs said.

The municipality does however plan to fully equip the environment on Braila iela (Braille street), located near Lake Jugla. The beach there will be suitable for people with different disabilities, but especially visual disabilities.

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