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Disabled UK Woman Says: Scooters Give Us Freedom, So Please Show Tolerance
Friday 27 March 2015
Disabled Derby woman says: Scooters give us freedom so please show tolerance
IN 1995, with Derby becoming more pedestrianised, I could no longer reach all the shops I needed to due to my own health problems.
There was only one solution – to join Derby Shopmobility and use a scooter. Once I started, I felt liberated. I could regain some of my independence.
That year, for the first time in 12 years, I was able to do my own Christmas shopping without relying on catalogues.
However, I soon found that some members of the public were not very tolerant of scooter users.
To that end, I have been spat on, verbally abused and nearly knocked off the vehicle I was using by someone pushing a pushchair in front of me and verbally abusing me, leaving me badly shaken. Fortunately, my husband was with me, reassuring me that the incident was not my fault.
On another occasion, while browsing in one of our major stores, someone pushed a wheelchair right behind me, leaving me no room to reverse out, then accused me of being a bad driver, and I shouldn't be on a scooter. To which I replied that she was wrong.
So please, if you do see scooter drivers, remember that we do have the right to be out and about just as you do. Remember that we cannot see you over A-boards, and you may not see us.
We are not invisible. Very often, accidents are not the scooter user's fault – pedestrians are at fault on many occasions.
The correct speed for a scooter within a shopping area is 4mph. However, larger scooters may go 6mph or up to 8mph.
The larger scooters have to be registered with the DVLA and usually have a number plate. These are permitted to use on the road.
Shopmobility's scooters in Derby are fitted with a governor and thus can only reach a top speed of 4mph.
As for in-store mobility scooters, these only go at a very slow pace, more like 2mph. As they are extremely noisy, they can easily be heard approaching.
Scooter users have to negotiate many obstacles and most of us drive very carefully.
If a scooter driver is involved in an accident, which may or may not be their fault, this could have a very negative effect on their whole life.
They may totally lose their confidence. Always remember, you may need to use a scooter yourself one day.
I would love to be able to walk unaided round a shopping centre or a large supermarket.
I was lucky enough to win a scooter in 2003 and have had my own since then.
I always advise anyone wanting to own one to try some at Shopmobility before purchasing one. That way, you will have a good idea which scooter suits you best.
Any reliable dealer will bring the correct vehicle to your home and will assess your driving skills before the sale is completed.
The dealer should make sure that you have a dry shed or garage and an accessible power point to recharge your vehicle. Your new scooter should be covered by a warranty and insurance.
Finally, let me tell you what owning a mobility scooter means to me. Firstly, freedom. I can go out on my own, leaving my husband to do something else.
I can feel the sun on my face in the summer and feel that I do have some independence. Too many disabled people feel trapped in their homes.
The internet is no substitute for actually meeting people and having a face-to-face conversation.
So let's have no more talk of restricting the use of mobility scooters. It takes a lot of courage to ride one in the first place. Most scooter users I know ride them safely.
Why do I need to use a scooter or a wheelchair, you may ask? Well I have had ME since 1983, and was fairly recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which I have had for a long time. I also have osteoarthritis. All of this affects my ability to walk more than a few yards without pain or fatigue.
However, I am involved in various charities and other activities, none of which I could take part in without the use of a wheelchair or a scooter.
The above, with comments, originally appeared here.
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