The Trouble With Mobility Scooters

mobility scooters

Did you know that the UK has the highest number of mobility scooters currently in use than any other European country?

It has been calculated that we have around 330,000 of them whizzing around our little island, and the number is actually increasing year on year.

With figures as extraordinary as these, it is no wonder that the BBC made a TV documentary about the phenomenon. You may have seen it recently? It is called ‘The Trouble With Mobility Scooters’ and you may be able to watch it on catch-up TV if you missed it.

There is no doubt that mobility scooters offer their users a chance of independence that has been denied them because of their age or medical condition, but for other road and pavement users, they can be a complete nightmare!

Unlike with other motorised vehicles on the roads, scooter users do not have to take any form of driving test, or pass a proficiency test before using one. You don’t need any form of insurance cover to use one either. Did you know that you can even be allowed to drive one if you are registered as blind? An oversight there I think – no pun intended.

The BBC TV documentary took a warm-hearted look at the problem with mobility scooters by following a group of users as they went through a driving course put on by the South Yorkshire Police force.

The scooter users were from South Yorkshire, north Wales, and Derbyshire, and the TV crew observed them as they went about their lives using their scooters, and seeing first-hand how they have become a lifeline for their owners.

However, the stories were not always so rosy, especially for those people who have had encounters with mobility scooters and have come off worse because of it. Accidents involving mobility scooters are on the rise, and it is only expected to get worse as the number of users increase.

The documentary interviewed people who had been clipped, knocked down or run over by mobility scooters while out shopping, and one lady even gave up shopping in the Trafford Centre because of the sheer number of scooters she had to dodge each time she went there.

It is hardly surprising that collisions may occur in busy shopping centres and on the streets when you have a person driving a scooter that can reach 8 -10 mph, but who may be visually impaired, or who has physical reactions that have been drastically reduced through age.

One of the featured scooter drivers was put through the police training course by his son, because he didn’t think it was a very good idea that his 80-year-old dad should be driving one with tunnel vision!

Just because you don’t need insurance to drive a mobility scooter does not mean that you cannot get some. There are insurance companies that specialise in insurance for scooters, and the TV crew also got a behind-the-scenes look at one company as they fielded some quite distressing telephone calls from claimants.

You may smirk at the thought of some scooter-related accidents – bins being knocked over, shop signs being ran over etc. but there is an increasing call for insurance companies who have to deal with the aftermath of the chaos caused by scooter accidents.

While the TV show seemed to delight in retelling the amusing stories, such as the lady who drove her mobility scooter into the baptismal bath at her church, simply because she wanted to meet the handsome new priest, there is a serious side to these accidents that you cannot ignore.

There were also sad and touching moments within the programme that really helped to bring home the message of how important these scooters can be to the people who use them.

Despite the image of an elderly scooter driver springing to mind whenever you think of them, people of all ages with serious medical conditions use them too. Such as the 34-year-old mother who has to use one because she suffers from MS. It was heart-breaking to see her watch an elderly woman walking around completely unaided, while she herself was confined to the limits of her mobility scooter, probably for the rest of her life.

Overall, the programme helped to make people aware of just how important mobility scooters are to their users, and generally how they are a good thing for society. What is your view on the programme?.

Questions Raised Over Mobility Scooter Accessibility On Railways

© Oscar1319 Dreamstime Photos© Oscar1319 Dreamstime Photos

Mobility scooters were making news headlines recently in Scotland, when a disabled lady was turned away from a train because of her mobility scooter.

The train line concerned, Northern rail, told the lady that they did not accept mobility scooters onto the line, despite the fact that the woman concerned had travelled the line before on six or seven different occasions.

The refusal from the train guard resulted in the lady being stranded at the station with no way to get safely home to Maryport from the Carlisle station. Railway staff eventually provided a disability taxi to take her home.

This was despite their being adequate space on the train available, and protestation from fellow passengers and the Journey Care representative present.

Mobility Scooter guidelines

Northern Rail have accessibility guidelines in place to offer assistance to disabled travellers. According to their website, people using manual and powered wheelchairs can use train services, but may find some platforms and stations inaccessible.

Their guidelines about mobility scooters goes much further. Unless a scooter can be folded down and carried onboard as hand-luggage, the rail line cannot allow mobility scooters on their trains. A spokeswoman stated that many scooters are not easy to manoeuvre, and unless they can be folded and carried as luggage, they wouldn’t be able to accommodate them safely onboard.

This incident has helped to highlight a possible health and safety issue across the network, and Northern Rail have taken steps to reiterate their policy on mobility scooters to all staff, so that all stations now follow the same guidelines.

Train access is an important consideration for anyone who is thinking about purchasing a new scooter, and plans to travel regularly by train. There are a wide range of scooter designs of offer that are easy to fold and lightweight to make carrying easier.

Travel Assistance

The best way to ensure there will be no disruption to your travel arrangements would be to check with the trail line concerned, and book assistance with your journey through the rail lines Travel Care or Journey Care service.

Many rail lines such as Virgin and Scot Rail have good provision for disabled accessibility, but they do urge passengers who may require assistance to contact them in advance to enable them to access their services efficiently.

Travel assistance is offered across all rail networks, and can help disabled passengers with their travel needs. This may be in the form of having a person to help you on and off the train at each end of your journey, or reserving specific seats close the the exits for those with limited mobility.

Cross Country trains, for example, offer a Journey Care service where a specialist team will help to plan your journey, book your tickets, and provide physical assistance whenever you need it on the day of your journey. Help can also be arranged if you need to change trains at any point during your journey.

Booking Travel Assistance

Travel assistance can usually be pre-booked through the rail networks website, and arrangements can also be arranged over the phone, or via textphone.

Many trains carry dedicated spaces for wheelchair users across Standard and First Class carriages, but it is always best to check with the rail line first to ensure there is adequate availability.

If you book your rail tickets online, the website will usually give you an option to choose travel assistance, and the scale of help you need through a drop down menu of care. Usually though you will need to give at least 48 hours notice of needing travel assistance for your requirements to be accommodated.

When booking assistance by telephone or textphone, with some train lines you may only need to give 24 hours notice, but it is wise to give as much notice as you possibly can.

Travelling without prior notice

There may be times when you need to travel urgently, and therefore may not have the time to pre-arrange travel assistance. In these cases, most rail networks advise you to alert station staff on arrival to make them aware of your needs. The staff will do everything possible to help.

Rail travel is a convenient way for disabled individuals to get around, and there are railcards available for passengers with disabilities and their carers or companions to travel at a discounted rate.

The National Rail website at has a very useful route planner called Stations Make Easy that allows you to see photographs of stations, so you can plan your route via the more accessible stations on offer.

Here is something you don’t see every day

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A mobility scooter getting towed away on Aberdeen’s Union Street.

The scooter, which was lifted near Union Street’s junction with Belmont Street, had broken down.

A worker from Cars Recovery was photographed by EveningExpress reader Anis Raps Ahmed, strapping the red scooter to the back of a flat-bed truck at around 6pm on the 8th of July.

A spokesman for Cars Recovery said towing mobility scooters is actually more common than you’d think.

He added: “We get call-outs like this roughly once a month. Most mobility scooters have breakdown cover.”

Video shows moment teens arrive at school prom on mobility scooters

John Davidson, George Greenhalgh, Alex Mee, Matthew Bodkin, Jake Wright, and Adam Lee, aged 15 and 16, were filmed arriving to Castlebrook High, Bury for the event.

This is the hilarious moment a group of teenagers made their glamorous arrival at their school prom – on mobility scooters.

John Davidson, George Greenhalgh, Alex Mee, Matthew Bodkin, Jake Wright, and Adam Lee, aged 15 and 16, were filmed arriving to Castlebrook High, Bury for the event.

The video clip, which has been viewed more than 10 million times since the stunt last Thursday, shows the group of six friends dressed in sharp suits and sunglasses trundling up Parr Lane surrounded by traffic.

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A member of the crowd lets off a smoke bomb and a crowd cheers as they drive up along a red carpet.

The school leavers were then transported to a coach for the prom celebration which took place at the Dukenhalgh Hotel.

A video clip of the arrival was uploaded to Facebook and was soon picked up by website the Lad Bible, where it shot to viral fame.

Mr Bodkin added: “We’re all very thankful for the interest as it was just meant to be a joke between a few friends and something a bit different instead of the normal sports car and limo arrivals.

Matthew Bodkin, former head boy, said: “We hired mobility scooters instead of limos or sports cars because we wanted to do something a bit different to the norm.

“However, we thought that instead of trying to impress people or go over the top with helicopters etc we would go for something a little more humorous and out of the ordinary.

“This is when, along with the help of Alex’s dad Aidy Mee, we came up with the idea of coming on mobility scooters.

“The horns, music, sunglasses and smoke grenades came to us later and were effects that we thought would add more humour, drama and irony to the big arrival as our mode of transport was mobility scooters which are traditionally associated with older and less able people than young high school goers.”

Mr Bodkin stressed there was no intention to discriminate or offend people who use mobility scooters.

“We never thought it would blow up like this nor did we intend for it to. We have had 3.5 million views on a video on The Lad Bible’s Facebook page and it has also had over 100,000 likes.”