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Experiences of a mobility scooter user

A mobility scooter test run

For a number years I had wanted to do a test run on a mobility scooter around Brighton and Hove, to experience first hand the possible problems that disabled people encounter when using such vehicles. As the opposition spokesperson for Adult Social Care and Health on Brighton and Hove City Council, I volunteered to do just that. With the very kind help of the Shopmobility Centre, I drove the scooter from Churchill Square, to the Brighton and Hove Bus Company depot in Conway Street, Hove.

Problems of bus access

I was accompanied by two scooter users who are Shopmobility volunteers and we travelled via Churchill Square, Western Road, Church Road and Goldstone Villas to the bus depot in Conway Street, Hove. Once there I took part in a prearranged access test for getting class 2 disability scooters on and off buses, which I quickly discovered is no easy task. I successfully accessed a bus on my scooter but discovered that to exit I had to reverse out onto the pavement. Rear view mirrors would have helped considerably as I am used to using them whilst driving a car. I discovered that other, shorter wheel base types of wheelchair, that can turn in their own length, are able to carry out that same exercise with greater ease.

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Mobility schooter test run

Mobility schooter test run

Mobility schooter test run

Mobility schooter test run

General access problems

Following the bus test, I returned to Churchill Square via Sackville Road, Hove Street, the south side of Kingsway and Preston Street. The main problems I encountered on my route were:-

  • ‘A’ boards and tables and chairs on pavements outside cafes and restaurants which in many cases reduced the pedestrian/scooter width to less than the prescribed 1.3 metres. That means that this narrow area has to accommodate pedestrians, disability scooters, mothers with children in buggies and people with various disabilities such as sight impairment.
  • Uneven pavements and tree roots which, in some cases, made for quite unpleasant repetitive jolting of the scooter and hence the human body which clearly cannot be that good for people with certain types of disability.
  • Vehicles parked on pavements and over dropped curbs and a number of incidents of a dropped curb on one side of a road junction but not on the opposite side.
  • Pedestrians who clearly are either not aware of people in wheelchairs, or just look at you and ignore the fact that you are there.

I am investigating the possibility of getting the surface and obstacle problems improved, but the difficulties posed by unthinking or unsympathetic pedestrians could be very much harder to resolve.

Comments about this page

  • If you can resolve the problems regarding the unsympathetic pedestrians, you may also consider a minority of scooter users who take the attitude ‘I am disabled so get out of my way!’. With normal traffic noise, it is extremely difficult to hear a scooter approaching from behind; using the horn or bell as a warning is often forgotten. I am semi-disabled and walk with the aid of a stick, but many times my stick has been knocked away from me by a scooter approaching from behind. 

    By Ron Burtenshaw (02/11/2011)
  • As I said in my report, I may be able to look into some of the structural and street clutter issues but the behaviour of individuals is a much harder thing to address. I think we all accept that those individuals are a very small part of the community who don’t really care about others. Where has respect and tolerance in our society gone?

    By Ken Norman (14/11/2011)
  • Very interesting. A pity I found this a year after it had been started! The biggest problem for pedestrians is being aware of the approach or even presence of a mobility scooter. These vehicles are supposed to be fitted with amber flashing lights in stalks (like tractors etc) for dual carriageway use but I’ve never seen them for sale anywhere. They would help. The biggest problems for scooter users are the range – they can’t access buses or bus stops in busy Brighton so they have to have sufficient range to get in and out of the town from outlying districts – and the quality of the ride over some horrendous road and pavement surfaces. I would happily use my scooter to get into Hove and Brighton (“green” electric travel too!) but for these reasons use my car (or shop elsewhere) as I can’t walk to and from the bus stops. Any help from the local council would be appreciated, but I can’t see it coming because there are no votes in it! (What a shame I’m unable to ride a bike!)

    By Keith Mason (30/12/2012)
  • Is there a map of any description that tells of accessible routes around the city? I find it very difficult as I have only just got my scooter and I am so disappointed that I can’t go wherever I please in the city. I live in Hollingdean and it is frustrating not to be able to visit friends as dropped curbs are virtually non existent on this estate.

    By Pam Monk (05/03/2014)

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