Mobility scooters are to lead a “conga” around Plymouth city centre for a fundraising event next month. The walking-pace “scoot” has been organised by community transport charity Access Plymouth to raise awareness of it’s services.
Access Plymouth’s fundraising officer Erica Travies explained: “We hope it will be a bit of a conga through the city. It is not a race and will be going at walking pace. We want to raise awareness of what we do and get businesses and the community involved as well as raise money. We have already invited a number of businesses who we hope will let their employees loose to get dressed up in red and walk with us.”
This quirky fundraising event will commence and conclude at Access Plymouth’s premises in Mayflower East Car Park on Friday 2nd September at 12pm, finishing around 2pm with refreshments, certificates and prizes. Marshalls will line the “scoot route” at intervals for safety purposes, which has been authorised by Plymouth city council.
Erica added: “I really believe the event will capture peoples’ imagination…….and while it may be on a small scale this year, our hope is that it could grow to be an amazing annual fundraising event.”
Access Plymouth provides mobility scooters and wheelchairs for hire, as well as the dial-a-ride red buses and a community car service for those unable to access public transport. There will be up to 12 mobility scooters available to hire on the day of the event.
With mobility scooters sales going into the stratosphere in recent years, there is a direct correlation in the rise in the number of accidents both minor and fatal involving mobility scooters.
Mobility scooters now account for more accidents on the road than tractors!! According to the Daily Record, in excess of 700 people in the UK have been hurt in road accidents involving mobility scooters since 2011
Despite the fact that mobility scooters can only travel at speeds up to 8mph, there were 10 accidents involving mobility scooters in Scotland in 2015. One of the accidents, in Falkirk, proved fatal and another resulted in serious injuries. In contrast, just 14 road accidents in the past three years in Scotland have involved tractors.
Across the UK as a whole, 707 people have been hurt in 681 road accidents involving mobility scooters in the past five years, 23 of them being fatal. Last year, mobility scooters were involved in 222 crashes nationally, constituting a 6.2% increase on the 209 accidents in 2014 which was 34% higher than the figure for 2013.
The UK is the mobility scooter capital of Europe, with the number of mobility scooters on our roads estimated to be between 350,000 and 400,000.
Have you witnessed an accident involving a mobility scooter? If so, feel free to explain the circumstances in the Reply Box below.
Residents were up in arms when the callous actions of council employed dustbin men meant disabled people reliant on their mobility scooters could not leave their homes and therefore were imprisoned.
Grandmother-of-three Johanne Roach took pictures of the bins that had been deliberately knocked over on the pavement in Wythenshawe, Manchester. She explained: “They were literally just flinging them in front of people’s driveways, meaning some cars were blocked in. We have a lot of elderly residents who use mobility scooters and the footpaths were totally blocked for them. One lady was stuck in for a couple of hours. I don’t understand why they couldn’t have just set the bins to one side like normal people.”
Dawn Ming, a mother-of-four, commented: “It was completely ridiculous. They are supposed to be public servants coming here and keeping our communities tidy, not wrecking them. We pay our taxes to pay for them so I was stunned when they just laughed it off. I was asking why couldn’t they just leave them upright. All the way down our road was just bins scattered everywhere. They ought to be ashamed.”
Yvonne Leonard, 63, who uses a mobility scooter, added: ‘Their behaviour was disgusting. It’s a disgrace the mess they’ve left behind.’
Contractors arrived later in the afternoon to remove the bins that had been left on the ground.
Councillor Nigel Murphy, executive member for neighbourhoods, stated: ‘We have investigated this unacceptable incident and the staff responsible have been reminded of their duty to show proper consideration for residents in the course of their work. We will always take prompt action if any worker representing the council fails to meet the high standards of customer service expected of them.”
Lincolnshire police were called to the McDonalds branch by staff at the Grand Parade restaurant in Skegness. The Lincolnshire Echo reported that the mobility scooter driver had tried to place an order but was refused by staff as the drive-thru is for “roadworthy vehicles” only.
The mobility scooter owner refused to leave, causing a delay to other customers for up to an hour. When police officers arrived, the man was breathalysed before being escorted away in a police car. Michael Ernest Green, 62, of Clifford Road in Skegness has been charged with being drunk in charge of a carriage – an offence under the 1872 Licensing Act.
A McDonalds spokesman said: “Following advice taken from independent parties and company safety risk assessments, it is our policy only road worthy motor vehicles should be served in our drive-thru lanes. This takes into account a number of considerations including space available in the lanes and the heights of ordering points and service hatches. Mobility scooter users are invited to enter into our restaurants and order food at service points which are more convenient for them, and most importantly, safer for the customer and crew when selling food.”
The 1872 licensing act was originally brought in to crack down on anyone caught drunk in charge of a carriage, steam engine, bicycle a horse or a cow. Mobility scooters are classed as a carriage and are not covered by current drink-driving laws. The crime has a maximum penalty of £200 or 51 weeks in prison.
Luckily there were no “Dick Dastardly” tricks as mobility scooter drivers pitted their wits against each other last weekend. The Arbroath Mobility Scooter Wacky Races included activities aimed at giving confidence to both novice and advanced mobility scooter users. The event was organised to publicise how a mobility scooter can positively impact on people who feel “trapped” indoors by disability or age.
The first of its kind in Scotland, it featured learner driving training to all mobility scooter users, “wacky races” and time trials. Whilst the day was primarily aimed at mobility scooter users who may be disabled or elderly, there were also events for children.
Organiser Donald Downie commented that many people who could benefit from owning a scooter are nervous or unsure about trying one and the wacky races was an opportunity to “try one out in a controlled environment with no hazards and even have a go in some fun events on courses designed to instil confidence in mobility scooter users”.
A disabled woman has criticised the organisers of a local festival for discriminating against her by forcing her to pay for insurance if she wishes her to take her mobility scooter with her.
Sharon Dawson, who lives in Lincoln, was looking forward to attending the Twinwood Festival in Bedfordshire in 2017, and was forward planning as she has recently been made disabled by a crippling illness. The insurance would be an added cost on top of the tickets expenditure, which cost £240 for the full festival.
Sharon feels that she, and others in a similar positon, are being penalised for being disabled and ‘treated like because I am differently abled that I am stupid and reckless’. She continued: “I thought this country had stopped the discrimination against the disabled. I was seriously shocked and offended when they told me I would have to pay out extra money, around £60, just to go to a festival, when able bodied people would not.”
She added: “Just stick me in a box and say I am not worthy of a life as that’s how I feel thanks to Twinwood Festival. What a good way to knock a person down.”
A spokeswoman for Scope, the national charity for disabled people, has condemned the event organisers: “”Event organisers should be looking at ways to improve access and open their doors to disabled consumers. Unfortunately, many disabled people continue to face negative attitudes – in the playground, in the street, and from employers. Scope research shows that for the most part, these negative perceptions of disability are caused by ignorance and that not enough people know or interact with disabled people.”
A spokesman for the festival said: “Twinwood Festival’s paramount concern is the safety of all our visitors. We have 5,000 pedestrians of all ages walking around the site every day, and we have a ‘no public vehicle movements’ on festival site rule. We have not banned mobility scooters, but as some of these can travel at up to eight miles per hour, we have requested that owners who wish to bring their mobility scooters to Twinwood Festival have insurance. This is to cover their own personal safety as well as other people’s safety.”
As a mobility scooter owner, have you encountered a similar situation in terms of discrimination at a public event? Do you agree or disagree with the festival organisers? Let us know your views in the Reply Box below.
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.”
Motorists told the Birmingham Mail the OAP was ‘completely oblivious’ to the mayhem she was leaving in her wake on the dual carriageway A451 ring road in Kiddermisterat 4.45pm on Tuesday 24th May 2016.
One motorist managed to film the silver haired scooted rider, as she drove around a busy roundabout, forcing vehicles to stop in their tracks as they tried to avoid the mobility scooter which has a top speed of 8mph. Driver Vanessa Hughes, 42, described the chaos: “I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Cars were beeping their horns and putting on their hazard warning lights to tell other road users to be careful. She just seemed completely oblivious to what was going on. I hope she got where she was going ok!”
Government guidelines stipulate that class 3 mobility scooters should use the pavements where possible. If used on a dual carriageway the driver should use a flashing amber beacon. Caution is advised when using the road and drivers should use a reflective jacket.
The Highway Code adds: “When negotiating major roundabouts (ie with two or more lanes) it may be safer for you to use the pavement or find a route which avoids the roundabout altogether. Mobility scooters MUST NOT be used on motorways. They should not be used on unrestricted dual carriageways where the speed limit exceeds 50 mph (80 km/h) but if they are used on these dual carriageways, they MUST have a flashing amber beacon.”
West Mercia Police said they had no log of the incident, but warned that mobility scooters should only be used following government guidelines. Their spokesman added: “However, class 3 invalid carriages must also be registered and you could be stopped by police if your invalid carriage does not have the necessary features.”
In the ITV interview Will Young told Lorraine Kelly that he loves having some drama in his shows including a mobility scooter that lights up. He explained: “I’m slightly obsessed with mobility scooters and I don’t know why.”
Will continued: “So I blinged my mobility scooter up and what was brilliant is there were people in the front row who were on mobility scooters and I had a knowing look from them and I was like, ‘you need to do that to your mobility scooter’.
He added: “I started playing the piano on the scooter, it’s just brilliant and the crowd love it.”
However unlike Monaco, the drivers in St Ives will not be driving racing cars capable of more than 200 mph, but mobility scooters with a top speed of 4mph!!
John Souter, of St Ives Town Team, said that the idea had been to provide a fun attraction for the local community.
It is also by way of a protest after Huntingdonshire District Council said it would withdraw funding from the local branch of Shopmobility which loans mobility scooters to visitors to Huntingdon with mobility problems. John Souter explained: “We will not be racing for health and safety reasons but we will be doing mobility scooter time trials and manoeuvring. There will also be kids’ scooter races and a kids’ scooter obstacle course.”
He continued: “We are trying to get the whole of the community involved and the mobility scooter event gives older people an opportunity to join in at the same time as kids on their scooters.” He explained that they also wished to highlight the issue of mobility because of the increasing number of mobility scooters in the town.
Performance: F1 car 0-124mph 3.8 seconds. Mobility scooter 0-4mph in a similar time.