With the population in Australia aging rapidly there is an increasing use of mobility scooters to get around. The Sydney Morning Herald recently had an article on the dangers of these scooters. Most of the 700 hospitalisations that occurred last year happened on the roads, with falls at home being next dangerous. An average of 6 people per year die from their injuries, the majority due to head injuries.
stories of confused pensioners trundling down motorways on their scooters, but most of the risk to users is just navigating pathways around residential areas. Most of the pathways in older residential areas are only 1.2m wide, if there at all. I have seen mobility scooters being driven down the shoulder of busy arterial roads despite wide pathways because the ramps at intersecting roads are too steep or awkward to navigate.
When planning for active transport networks and designing facilities we are required to provide for mobility impaired users, but what do we do about all those areas where the existing facilities cannot be used by mobility scooters and wheelchairs? Council has recently been replacing pathways and ramps in my neighbourhood but most are still unusable for mobility scooters and wheelchairs after being replaced.