In his latest Sourceable article, Lee Wilson tackles the topic of the rise of mobility scooter use. With the longevity revolution upon us, and the desire by older people to use these devices, it’s time to think about this in the design of public built environments. Large shopping malls made the transition some time back and some offer a scooter hire service. Access ramps are one thing, but many scooters have a larger turning circle than powered wheelchairs. The scooter pictured is typically one that comes apart for fitting into the boot of a car, but it has a small battery and limited in how far it can travel.
Powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters have some common elements in terms of their use as transportation devices. However, scooters do not seem to have quite the same stigma as wheelchairs. Maybe it is that they look more attractive, or look more like a four-wheel Vespa (well the large ones do). I even saw one that mimicked a Harley Davidson with black leather and lots of stud work and chrome. Or maybe it is the difficulty in adjusting to a joystick instead of handlebars. But powered wheelchairs can access public transport more easily, including taxis, and they can often manoeuvre around shops more easily than scooters. The topic of scooter training and safety is another topic entirely.
Lee’s article provides some interesting statistics on scooter users and the impact for the design of the built environment.