Concerns around the way mobility scooters are driven in Loughborough town centre, with some being driven on main roads, needs to be addressed immediately according to Councillor Peter Lewis, who represents Loughborough South West ward.
He raised the issue at a recent Highways Forum for Charnwood, which discusses matters relating to road safety. He believes that mobility scooters should be subjected to the same rigorous review needed to access a Blue Badge which entitles disabled people to park closer to their destination. At the moment, Government guidelines stipulate that people don’t need a licence to drive a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, but may have to register it.
There is also no legal eyesight requirement to drive mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs, with speeds ranging from 4mph off the road, and 8mph on the road. Charnwood Borough Council runs a Shop Mobility Scheme at Loughborough Town Hall, where it rents out 10 scooters. It says users must register to join the scheme and they must also undertake a test to ensure they can operate the scooter.
Councillor Lewis told the Highways Forum: “I am concerned the way mobility scooters are driven with a degree of forcefulness that can be dangerous. I notice it in the town centre. We are an ageing population and the use is increasing.”
Speaking after the meeting, he added: “This is not an attack on the mobility scooter people but I do realise on Saturday (in the town centre) that it is a conflict between people packed in a tight space and someone getting through on a mobility scooter. I am worried about people that are driving them. There is a growing habit of making shopping easier by having one. If you are hit at speed by a mobility scooter you are injured.
He concluded: “We need to review the situation. I would like to see the issue addressed because I do not have a solution, but courtesy is one solution but that is in decline these days. If you want a blue badge you have to have it reviewed and make an extremely good case for it. I don’t see why it can’t be the same for mobility scooters. There should be a licensing system. There are many people who are genuine but I am beginning to wonder.”