Modern conveniences such as online shopping and mobility scooters can ease the physical strain on those who are getting on in years. And you can hardly blame pensioners for wanting to take things easy in their retirement after a lifetime of work.
But is a lack of exercise actually causing problems for older people, and making it more likely that they could suffer serious injury? The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy says millions of pensioners are failing to maintain their strength, which is putting them at greater risk of falls. According to a survey carried out by the CSP, 25% of over-65s don’t do any strength exercises at all – this can include yoga, as well as activities not usually seen as ‘exercise’, such as digging in the garden or carrying shopping bags.
The CSP says that the increasing popularity of online shopping means fewer pensioners are now carrying home groceries themselves.Muscle waste in pensioners can have serious consequences – the vast majority of hip fractures among older people come from falls, costing the NHS around £1 billion a year. Professor Karen Middleton, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, believes strength exercises can help pensioners live healthier and longer lives.
Professor Middleton explained: “We must move past the idea that becoming weaker and frailer is inevitable as we get older. Research shows getting stronger brings a whole host of health benefits so it is incredibly important that people don’t overlook strengthening when being active. This doesn’t mean immediately hitting the gym to lift weights – to start, it can be digging in the garden or simple bodyweight exercises like standing up out of a chair 10 times. There are easy ways to do it but the essential thing is to get started and these poll results show a lot of work needs to be done to get that message out.”
Defiant OAP Robert Cockburn happily trundles along a 60mph road on his 8mph mobility scooter, leaving a trail of irate motorists in his wake.
The pensioner revealed drivers shout abuse at him because he holds them up by making daily low-speed trips to the beach for a picnic. But Robert, 70, insists he has as much right to use the road as they do — and refuses to give way or drive on the pavement.
Robert explains: “My mobility scooter is registered with the DVLA. It pays zero road tax and is covered by insurance. It’s an on-road mobility scooter. People overtake on the white lines. That’s not my problem — it’s theirs. I get cars that toot when they go past. They don’t toot anybody else.
He continues: “And I’ve had cars drawing level with me and yelling abuse, telling me I should be on the pavement. Why would the DVLA register scooters for on-road use if they wanted to limit them to the pavement? I’m no different to a cyclist on the road.”
The former bus inspector travels over two miles each day along the twisting road from his home in Port Seton, East Lothian, to Longniddry Bents, where he parks up to enjoy a picnic and read his newspaper.
The Highway Code states that mobility scooters should use footpaths wherever possible, but Robert claims it’s not practical on his bulky wheels. The police are powerless to prevent him driving on the B1348 as he is not breaking any law. Robert explained: “The police don’t stop me. One constable came and asked me questions about two years ago, but it was quite obvious he didn’t know what the law was regarding mobility scooters. I had to put him right and he apologised. I pointed out that if people are speeding on that road, it’s up to traffic police to sort that out — not me. I don’t use the pavement because if I meet a bike I can’t get out of the way. If I meet another scooter, they’re too heavy to lift up and down on the pavement.”
Frustrated motorists who have been stuck behind Robert, below, want him to stick to the path. One driver even warned he is dicing with death by continuing with his road trips. He said: “He’s got his high-viz jacket on, but I just think one day he is going to get run over. You wouldn’t even want to walk along that road, never mind drive a mobility scooter along it. There are double white lines on some stretches meaning that drivers cannot overtake him. It’s crazy, especially as there’s a path all the way along the road.”
Jason Wakeford of road safety charity Brake said: “Pavements are much safer than roads. The Highway Code states that scooters should use pavements where available.”
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Mobility scooters have been involved in hundreds of cases dealt with by the Cumbrian constabulary, including crashes, highways disturbances and thefts.
Information covering the last five years, uncovered by CN Group using Freedom of Information laws, shows there have been a total of 54 separate ‘highways disruptions’ involving mobility scooters over the period – while a further 14 were classed as ‘roads related offences’.
There were two counts of taking without consent, while police are regularly called to investigate the theft of mobility scooters from across the county. The data also reveals they have been at the centre of a range of serious accidents, with police records showing five people, including a child in Carlisle and pedestrians in Ulverston and Whitehaven, have been hit by mobility scooters. On one occasion, officers were called to a collision in Carlisle involving a mobility scooter and two other vehicles.
Police in the city attended another incident where a mobility scooter had collided with a large van while a third was recorded by officers simply as ‘car vs mobility scooter’. In Ambleside, a mobility scooter user misjudged a corner and collided with a van, while in Grange-over-Sands, a mobility scooter rider was knocked off their vehicle by a car. There were 347 incidents in total.
Now, Cumbria Police have urged both mobility scooter drivers and motorists to be aware of one another in an attempt to halt the rising number of incidents on our roads. A spokesman for the force said: “Our advice is simply for both motorists and mobility scooter users to look out for one another. We ask that mobility scooter users give way to pedestrians when riding on pavements and that they obey traffic lights and all other road signals, including stop signs, give way signs and signs for one way streets. Also, we encourage mobility scooter users to wear high-visibility clothing, particularly at night, to help keep you and other road users safe.”
There are two classifications of mobility scooter. The first are suitable for use only on pavements and in pedestrianised areas and have a top speed of four miles per hour.
Their road-going counterparts, officially recorded by the DVLA as a Class 3 invalid carriage, have speeds of up to eight miles per hour but must comply with government regulations that demand the vehicles have a rear view mirror, front and rear lights, reflectors, a horn and an efficient braking system. Anyone using a mobility scooter on the road must comply with the Highway Code.
Road safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Nick Lloyd, explained the number of accidents involving mobility scooters nationwide is increasing year on year. Mr Lloyd said: “Mobility scooters provide an important form of transport for many people who might otherwise not be able to get out and about. They help people to enjoy a much better quality of life than they would otherwise do. However, as with all forms of transport, they create some risk for both the user and for other people.The number of accidents and casualties involving mobility scooters has only been recorded (for a few years) but these figures indicate that they are increasing which is very worrying.”
Mr Lloyd added: “RoSPA believes the best ways to prevent these casualties is to improve the quality and availability of guidance and training for mobility scooter users, manufacturers and retailers. We don’t believe that extensive new regulations are needed but it would help if it was made clear that road traffic laws governing careless and dangerous driving; driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and using a mobile telephone while driving apply to mobility scooter users.”
Mobility scooter owners claim a saboteur is causing punctures by dropping roof tacks all around the seaside resort of Clacton on Sea.
OAPs and others using mobility scooters have been left dodging the half-inch metal spikes on pavements in Clacton. Penny Bunby suffered three tyre punctures in a week and said at least six other pensioners had tyres damaged.
She explained: “I was going to the dog parlour with my dog to get his hair cut. I suddenly became aware something wasn’t right and my mobility scooter was pulling to the left so I stopped. I’ve had my mobility scooter for thee years and I’ve never had a puncture before but this was the third one in a week.” The retired social worker, 68, added: “I think someone is throwing down handfuls of tacks. It’s nasty and malicious.”
Mobility scooter repairer Roger Ball said he had dealt with nine tack punctures in as many weeks. All the blow outs had been caused by the same type of tack. He commented: “It’s too much of a coincidence, like someone is planting them.” Police said they were keeping an open mind in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.
Now we all know seaside resorts tend to be tacky, but this is clearly a cruel and malicious thing to do. The saboteur must be nailed!!
Almost unbelievably like a stunt straight out of “Last Of The Summer Wine”, a mobility scooter driver with a torch strapped to his head has been caught on camera driving round a roundabout, in the dark, while chatting away on his mobile phone.
The man is filmed changing lanes on his mobility scooter on the roundabout and, as the car passes him, it becomes apparent that the man is in fact on the phone. The video was caught by a driver who saw the man on a busy city centre roundabout at 10pm. In the absence of any lighting on the mobility scooter the man appears to be wearing a head torch to both light his way and indicate his presence to other road users on the roundabout in Pennycomequick, Plymouth.
According to the Highway Code, while mobility scooters capable of reaching speeds of 8mph can be used on the road, manual wheelchairs and class two mobility scooters with an upper speed limit of 4mph are designed to be used on pavements. Furthermore, while on the road, mobility scooters should obey the guidance and rules for other vehicles; when on the pavement mobility scooters should follow the guidance and rules for pedestrians.
Rules regarding lights, indicators and horns as for other road vehicles also apply to mobility scooters. At night, lights must be used. The Highway Code states: “Be aware that other road users may not see you and you should make yourself more visible – even in the daytime and also at dusk – by, for instance, wearing a reflective jacket or reflective strips on the back of the vehicle.”
Kieran Worthington, 28, moved his clippers and scissors outside to give Billy, whose in his 70s, a short back and sides in the reflection of the shop window.
The barber realised that poor Billy didn’t have crutches and his mobility scooter only had ‘one speed’ fast setting. It meant that the mobility scooter couldn’t be navigated inside the shop without causing mayhem and potential damage to the shop window or fittings.
Kieran then decided to showcase the pensioner’s new haircut outside Beard and Barnet Barbers in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Kieran explained: “Being on a mobility scooter speed, Billy would have driven into the wall because it only had one setting – and that was too fast. I didn’t mind cutting his hair outside because it’s just what we do really – we’d do it for everyone and anyone. It’s not even a big deal, or knew anyone had taken a photo, as tomorrow we’d have forgotten about. He said he was struggling to get inside other shops in town and we told him we’d help him out.”
Beard and Barnet, who charge £13 for a gents haircut, said it was the first time they had ever performed a haircut outside the shop front. Kieran had used the reflection of the store front window to help cut Billy’s hair and even brought out a mirror to show Billy the back of his head.
The barber shop owner Graeme Harding, 34, of Brighouse, West Yorks., added: “Billy had asked a friend of mine, it was my landlord actually, if there was anyway we could cut his hair and he came back and Kieran did it outside. The thing is, we’ve cut each other’s hair outside all the time so it’s no big deal to us, but we really wanted to help billy out. If I’m honest, we have old blokes come in on mobility scooters quite often and the guys park them up, get off and come inside. But unfortunately Billy couldn’t do that because he didn’t have any crutches.”
Llandudno and Rhyl-based Ableworld said they have received reports of a number of incidents in both areas. One elderly lady has been scammed by someone pretending to be from the firm that supplies mobility scooters, beds and lifts for baths and stairs. A spokeswoman said: “We have recently received reports of people posing to be from Ableworld and cold calling customers to arrange home visits.
Factory Outlet Scooters offer this advice:“If you arrange for a mobility scooter demonstration in your own home or delivery of an item, please ensure you always ask for identification.
Factory Outlet Scooters Are Offering People The Following Advice:
- Don’t ever accept anyone into your home if you have not invited them.
- Arrange for a friend or relative to be with you for your pre-arranged home visit for your peace of mind.
- If you are unsure if the visitor is genuine ask them to wait while you call the company to double check.
- Ask the cold caller for their telephone number so if you do have reason to doubt them, you have a number to give to the police
Pink lamp posts which also act as charging points could soon start appearing across Oxford thanks to an innovative city councillor.
The pink lamp posts would act as mobility scooter and solar powered electric bike charging stations and have been innovated by Oxford city councillor for Cowley, David Henwood, who created the prototype for his wife.
He explained: “My wife loves the film Mary Poppins, so at Christmas I bought her a Victorian lamp post and while installing it, I considered upgrading the electrical system to run on low watt LEDs. It wasn’t long before I adapted the design to run off solar cells and then adapted it further to charge an electric bike. Now it comes on at night only when we walk past, and charges my wife’s electric bike.”
Councillor Henwood is hoping councils and the government will adopt his design and bring the ‘pink lamp post’ to the streets of Oxford and beyond. He continued: “Our lamp posts in Oxford are being converted to low wattage LEDs to reduce running costs. I would also like to see existing lamp posts adapted so they can charge e-Bikes and mobility scooters too, and while we are doing that add a motion sensor so that they only turn on after dusk and when someone scoots past. This would also help to reduce light pollution in our towns and cities.”
David Henwood believes, due to the relatively short charging time ( each two-hour charge lasts, on average, 20 miles ) the charging points would give mobility scooter and electric bike users better access to commercial and shopping districts. He added charging points for electric cars were slowly being introduced in different parts of the country but dedicated charging points for cyclists and mobility scooters were trailing behind.
Mr Henwood has contacted the transport authority Oxfordshire County Council to ask them to conduct a feasibility study for charging points around the county. The councillor is no stranger to coming up with new inventions which he feels could improve life in Oxford. Last month he unveiled his own specially designed safety feature, called ‘pink bobbies’, which he wants to see positioned along roads to separate cyclists from vehicles using the roads alongside them.
Tough new rules are to be introduced in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster for mobility scooter users who live in the four high rise blocks of flats in Scunthorpe.
Under the proposals made by their landlords at Ongo Homes, Class 3 mobility scooters which can be driven on the roads will not be allowed in the buildings.Disabled tenants will also not be allowed to keep their mobility scooters continuously on charge and transport their vehicles in lifts.
All mobility scooters must be serviced annually and proof provided that all owners must have public liability insurance to the value of £1 million. Ongo, which manages the high-rise flats at Market Hill and Trent View House in Scunthorpe, is also proposing to designate storage areas fitted with smoke alarms and fire safe doors on the ground floor of each of the tower blocks.
Tenants have been told they will have to store and charge mobility scooters within those designated areas. In an open letter, the high-rise tenants have been told: “It is our sole aim to keep you safe as possible and we feel that by having these additional requirements in place for those who own a mobility scooter will further allow us to do so.”
A Grandmother and mother were shocked after a mobility scooter hit and damaged a buggy with a two-year-old girl in Cricklade Street, Cirencester.
34-year-old Jenna Monk, who came from London to visit her mother Caroline Carne, was walking down the street in Cirencester when a man on a mobility scooter flew past, hitting the buggy with her daughter.
Jenna, who suffered a shock, described the incident: “I had come in from the top end of the Market Square and I was pushing my daughter in a buggy. I walked quite slowly and this man on a scooter just came quite fast on the left and went straight into the front left side of the buggy. He didn’t stop or slow down. I had to hold the buggy as the front wheel got caught with his tyres. He just kept going.”
She continued: “He must’ve been aware because I actually shouted at him. I couldn’t run after him because I was pregnant. I was in a bit of a shock. I was more concerned about my daughter. You’re not expecting to be hit by something in that road. People don’t expect fast moving vehicles or traffic. It was a bit of a jolt but I had hold of the handles. My daughter is okay, she didn’t cry or anything but she was quite surprised as well. If I hadn’t been holding the handle, it might have turned the buggy over. Normally, when you hit something, you stop or slow down. And the buggy is completely broken. I think the person driving needs to be in control and mindful of pedestrians.”
Grandmother Caroline Carne, 67, from Meysey Hampton, said she wanted to make people aware that while cars are not allowed into the street during certain hours, people on mobility scooters who are allowed access, must still be aware of pedestrians when travelling down the street.
Caroline had been putting money in the car meter in Cirencester town centre when the incident happened and was told of the incident when she caught up with her daughter afterwards.
She said: “I didn’t see it happen. I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that you can’t have cars there but people can seem to do what they like with mobility scooters.