Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Police to Target Mobility Scooters

Now I don’t know exactly what to make of the Police Specials site, but I was drifting through cyberspace today when I ran across this little tit-bit on their forum:
Whilst at a neighbouring station a few weeks back i couldnt help noticing district priorities and one of the top one in some wards was mobility scooter accidents. So i guess they are a bit of a problem. Anybody had any dealings with Mobility Scooter accidents/incidents?
read the whole thread Now I don't know what districts he is talking about but the idea that mobility scooter accidents being a priority is alarming to say the least. I don't want go over old ground but the mobility scooter menace is VASTLY overstated, and seems to be just another manifestation of the new 'fashion' for demonising mobility scooters and their drivers. Quite why the police are making this a priority (if indeed they are) is beyond me. Whenever people start talking about the 'menace' they either bring up some example of rudeness (unpleasant, but probably shouldn't be criminalised) or the two case that always get trotted out, that while both are certainly tragedies but are extremely isolated. Can you imagine if every time there was an accident involving a bicycle it made it into the papers?

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Shoprider Sovereign

If you had to describe the most boring mobility scooter in the world it would have several defining characteristics. First it would have to be red. Not Ferrari red or a rich scarlet, it would have to be the colour best described as 'disability red'; a kind of purpley red something like the colour of a fresh bruise and an old wine stain. Second it would have to have a wicker basket on the front. Well I say wicker, more faux wicker. Well I say faux wicker, let's just call it plastic. It wouldn't be road legal. Or transportable. It would have a top speed of 4 miles per hour. It would in fact be the Shoprider Sovereign.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Mobility Scooter Menace (Again)

The ongoing threat to mankind posed by mobility scooters has been drawn to the attention of our glorious leaders. On January 7th the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) debated the matter; the discussion was none too edifying. Jeff Ennis (Lab) told the stories of Madison McNair, the toddler who was injured in an accident with a mobility scooter, and the sad story of Lillian Macey, who died after another scooter accident. Mr Ennis then followed up these two tragic cases with a couple of rants from his constituents, who had "witnessed near misses" and seen mobility scooters driven at "worrying speeds". Mr Ennis also quotes some interesting "statistics" about number of scooter acccidents. Sort of. The number of accidents in the category that contains mobility scooters went up 60% in the last three years (1,970 in 2006, to 3,238 in 2008), but as that category also includes ambulances, fire engines, motor caravans and quad bikes the number that can actually be attributed to mobility scooters is unknown. In fact if you factor in the the estimated growth in scooter users during the same period, from 100,000 to 300,000 you could argue that scooters are getting safer. Fortunately while he echos the concern of his constituents Mr Ennis doesn't advocate their solution - a mandatory test administered by suppliers. Assuming that a mandatory test WAS a good idea, giving suppliers responsibility for it would be a case of the fox guarding the chicken coop. Mr Ennis instead recommends making available voluntary training, similar to that offered by Great Yarmouth Constabulary. The Great Yarmouth course takes 25 minutes and is essentially a spin around some cones. Whether or not this has any real effect on the skills of the scooter driver remains to be seen. Hugh Bayley (Labour, City of York) then spoke about the need for people to be compensated when they are involved in accidents with mobility scooters, citing the "fact" that on the Motability Wheelchair and Scooter scheme
Those who get scooters under that scheme are required to insure the scooters, both for injury to third parties and for fire and theft.
This may come as a surprise to those who thought that insurance was a feature of the scheme not a requirment. I imagine Mr Bayley will also be campaigning for road side assistance to be mandatory as that is included on the scheme too. Sadiq Kahn, the The Minister of State, Department for Transport then responded in an entirely reasoned manner, thanking his honourable friends for being having honour and being friendly before dropping in this bizarre comment:
The hon. Gentleman will be aware, perhaps from Christmas presents he has bought for younger people, that it is possible to buy a remote control car that, when it comes into contact with an object, such as a table, TV or CD rack, will do a U-turn to avoid hitting that object. As a lay person, I do not have technical expertise on that, but I do not see why mobility scooters could not do something similar. I would like to look at that in the design standards and in any consultations we have as well.
Lost. For. Words.