The mobility scooter plague

We must fight back now, while some people in Britain still remember how to walk

11 April 2015

9:00 AM

11 April 2015

9:00 AM

How many of the people driving mobility scooters these days actually need a mobility scooter? The invention of the vehicle was a great move forward (literally) for those who genuinely needed it: the disabled and the infirm. But then another group of users appeared. Rather slowly, admittedly, and wheezing as they did so, before settling their vast backsides into the soothing embrace of the scooter’s seat. Once there they sighed happily, popped another Kit Kat into their gob and contemplated a life where movement from A to B required a mere flick of the wrist, rather than all that tedious leg business.

This supersized scooter squadron has conquered Britain with an ease that the Romans in their chariots could only have dreamed of. I passed a pub in Llanelli recently which offered a ‘Mobility Parking Valet Service’. The Speccie’s Marcus Berkmann relates a visit to Ramsgate where he witnessed so many people driving mobility scooters that ‘some of them must have been injured by people driving mobility scooters’. At least that would mean they were properly in need. I once saw a scooter being driven in Felixstowe with a set of golf clubs on the back.

The Rascal 650

Anyone who has braved the pavements of their local town or city lately will know the terror that scooters can bring. Many drivers exhibit the same disregard for other people that they show for their own cholesterol levels. Shoppers scatter and toddlers are yanked away as the Porker Porsches come careering through.

If you want evidence of the way these people view their scooters, look at the names of the different models: there’s the Vegas, for instance, and the Rascal. There’s also the Supersport, known lovingly to its owners as the Harley. The industry even has its own annual show at the Birmingham NEC, rather like the Geneva Motor Show but presumably with fewer models in bikinis and more burger stands.

Last year saw 40 reported cases of people being injured by mobility scooters, nine of them seriously, though the true picture must be far worse: only a minority of police forces collect figures, and most victims don’t bother calling the cops in the first place. There have even been fatalities, including a 90-year-old woman killed on the Isle of Wight in 2009. But because scooters are classed as medical devices rather than vehicles, their drivers’ collars remain unfelt. When a toddler was knocked over in Doncaster, the police confessed to her mother that ‘they’d had the old lady in the back of the police car and all they could do really was give her a verbal warning type thing’.

The Supersport mobility scooter

This would change if Labour MP Alison Seabeck got her way — she has called for tighter regulation, having seen the havoc scooters can wreak. She once witnessed a woman ‘leap out of her mobility vehicle, rush into the shops, come back with heavy bags and spring back into it’.

In the absence of a driving test or compulsory insurance, we can at least be thankful that the very worst scooter drivers are taking themselves off the road, or rather onto it — tales of them ending up on the motorway by mistake regularly make the news. I witnessed one idiot who’d found his way (God knows how) onto a major roundabout: whichever exit he took it was going to mean a busy B-road at best, the M25 at worst. A kindly lorry driver had pulled up to shield him from the traffic while they worked out what to do. Meanwhile the pedestrians of nearby towns could enjoy a few hours’ peace.

These, however, are only the immediate problems. The real danger lies in the future, when the scooter epidemic reaches critical mass (an apt phrase). A couple of generations down the line waits a Britain where nobody ever learns to walk at all. We’ll pass straight from baby buggy to mobility scooter with no intervening phase, stairlifts transporting us at home and moving walkways doing the job in public. Shanks’s pony will have been stabled forever, and as in the plot of some terrifying Will Self novel our legs will atrophy completely, bred out of existence through disuse.

Only if we act now can we save the country from this hideous fate. Let us rise up, and make these bogus scooter users rise up.

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  • Damaris Tighe

    Mobility scooters in supermarkets are a curse. When one is parked up you can’t get near the shelves but have to keep a polite & compassionate smile on your face.

    • Suzy61

      ‘differently abled’.

      As in ‘people of colour’ – I really must try to keep up!

      • Damaris Tighe

        Don’t bother Suzy – it’ll be something different next week!

  • The Red Bladder

    A piece that has been long needed. These contraptions are a modern day curse!

    • GraveDave

      A piece that has been long needed.

      Ah, yes, these fat white scroungers again, it certainly needs outing.

      • The Red Bladder

        Can’t say I’ve noticed many “fat” people using them. Certainly the man who dragged a small child along our main street with one of these devil’s chariots was as thin as a rake.

        • GraveDave

          That was my point. The claim that only fat people ride mobility scooters is bollox.

    • Verbatim

      I was at the Rijksmuseum just over a week ago at the “Late Rembrandt” exhibition. There was a family there, in that crowded art gallery, with their mother in a wheelchair. They held their arms astride so that nobody could interrupt her viewing of each and every picture: I myself was pushed aside when I innocently got in the way. Outside as we were leaving the same family had the previously wheel-chair bound woman walking, pushing her own chair, with the family walking by her side. Colossal hide.

      It’s the age of entitlement, particularly in Amsterdam if you ride a push-bike. Heaven help you if you don’t!!!

  • Rtd Colonel

    The old Wetherspoons taxi, don’t want to miss the 10.00am opening.

    • GhostofJimMorisson

      Weatherspoon’s taxi, hahaha. Made me chuckle. So true, though. Quick stop at the bookies first, then on to the ubiquitous binge-drinking shed.

  • Cobbett

    My mother can’t even get in/out of a car unaided and barely walk a few yards. A motor scooter is the only independent mobility she has. It’s not too hard for fat people to get on ‘disability’, so it’s difficult to really do much about it.

    ”Last year saw 40 reported cases of people being injured by mobility scooters”

    I’d much prefer that to nuclear war.

    • Darnell Jackson

      What’s nuclear war got to do with the price of eggs?

    • Dogsnob

      Not really an either/or situation is it?

      • Cobbett

        Well Dogswilly – there is no solution is there. Just put up with it.

        • Dogsnob

          Look here, you’re the latest in a string of people who misunderstand the construction of one’s moniker. Revolting.

    • MountainousIpswich

      Obesity is not a disability. It is not caused by organ failure, accident, illness or nuclear war. It is caused by too many mars bars.

      • Cobbett

        Liar – I know people who’ve piled on weight due to medication – my mother ballooned after being given steroids for swelling in the brain for instance.

        • Dogsnob

          Give thanks. Not much sign that the condition is likely to afflict yourself anytime soon.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “Kick the tyres and light the fires.”

  • F. Hugh Eveleigh

    What a refreshing, amusing and articulate read. The subject matter is pertinent but in the general rush of the piece it should not be forgotten that there are many deserving folk whose lives have been enhanced by the scooters. But Mr Mason and all readers know this and so I say whoopee to its tone and thank its author for a laugh-filled start to the day.

  • Arthur Thistlewood

    The mobility scooter in Felixstowe was surely an electric golf trolley on the way to the excellent links course down by the ferry. This would fit in with the general character of this modest and excellent English town – the only seaside holiday town left in Suffolk that is so everyday that it is not even self-conscious about being ordinary (compare Aldeburgh and Southwold).

    • VUNCOOL .

      Well said. Southwold *thinks* it’s posh, but Aldeburgh makes it look like Clacton. (That coyly hidden Co-op with the tiny sign!) Felixstowe has something neither of them have – two of the best second-hand bookshops I know of.

  • Arthur Ascii

    Morbidly obese men and women on mobility scooters, fag in hand, are a regular site in our High Street. They look half the age of the elderly drivers, and probably not likely to live as long.

    • GraveDave

      Yeah right. I only ever see one in mine, and she’s not fat, neither is she always roaring up and down on it. Nor does she (as far as I can tell) smoke. Though whether she is in genuine need of the mobility car, I cant say.
      But to proclaim it’s a plague and to be seen everywhere is just utter hate hitting bollox.

      • logdon

        utter hate hitting bollox.

        Is that a sub-set of ‘hate speech’?

      • Arthur Ascii

        Well, that’s your experience. I have related mine. No one is suggesting that there aren’t people who need them, but giving that we have an obesity epidemic, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that some people are getting about on these devices because they’re too fat and lazy to walk.

      • Damaris Tighe

        I think I & maybe others are just letting off steam because we’ve experienced these d*mn things used as battering rams. Where else can we have a go at the poor souls in mobility scooters if not the speccie 😉

  • eclecticmn

    The South Park episode “Raising the Bar” is devoted to this issue. Cartman is getting fat so he decides to do something about it …… he gets a mobility scooter.

  • Dogsnob

    ‘Motability’: a scheme to ensure that fat people get fatter; that weak people become weaker; and skint councils have to spend millions fitting ramped access to anywhere.

  • Precambrian

    The left have given us a cult of the victim – if you can claim victim status in some way you get to ride roughshod over others.

    • Cymrugel

      Yes. We’re always being bullied by people who are crippled. its a big problem.

      • Precambrian

        Crippled? They don’t appear to have their appetites disabled. The bully is the State though, with the victim-cults being opportunistic users of that.

        But I don’t expect reason from the Left – emotivism and moral exhibitionism are their speciality.

        • Cymrugel

          Just F*** O** you nasty hate filled rightwing W******. Try picking on someone who isn’t sick or disabled and they will deal with you as you deserve.

          • Precambrian

            Being unable to stop stuffing your face is not a disability. Maybe try constructing a point that isn’t based on emotivism and profanity…

          • Cymrugel

            I’d say writing a whole article implying that people with mobility problems are frauds and liars and making mean minded remarks about the way they look is pretty emotive and profane. Nest time you see someone on crutches kick one away – no doubt he is faking it for sympathy and a guaranteed seat on the bus.

          • Precambrian

            Profanity is swearing, and the article is not suggesting that everyon on a mobility scooter is faking it.

            Whilst your comment about kicking crutches is just more childish emotivism.

        • Cymrugel

          This has nothing to do with being on the left or right; just basic compassion.
          If you can’t move much, probably have physical issues that make sex hard if not impossible, cannot drink alcohol or do many things that require the ability to move freely, eating can be about the only comfort left.
          As a child was confined to a hospital bed for 8 weeks and gained a huge amount of weight, which I subsequently lost, with six months of painful rehabilitation.
          I wasn’t a victim -I was ill. I am now a very strong healthy adult who has no issues, but I know what it can be like and pray that I never find myself in that position again.
          I know several people with mobility scooters and wheelchairs. All are seriously unwell, but their chairs offer a lifeline that allows them to get out and about. They have weight problems because of their medication and illness. they are mostly in constant pain and comfort eat. All are well aware of that as one among many problems.
          Sorry if they get in your way occasionally, or you don’t like seeing people who don’t perhaps look their best enjoying a meal. But you can just suck it up and deal with it sunshine.
          For heavens sake try and walk a hundred yards in their shoes if you can’t manage a mile you mean minded little weasel.

          • Precambrian

            These are not children, and a grreat many are obese.

            And I have walked for 6 years in the shoes of the disabled so please leave your convenient presumptions out of it.

      • William_Brown

        I know, it’s getting out of hand…Only the other day there were those zimmer-framed thugs seen chasing Christians down in a cold blooded frenzy.

        • blandings

          I love a good fantasy

    • Ringstone

      Yeah, but the savage infighting over who gets top whinging rights between the various groups makes for good entertainment.

  • Chris Hobson

    baby boomers need mobility though

    • gerontius redux

      A sedan chair is far classier and you offer gainful employment to young people.

  • Grumpy

    What about the curse of the baby buggies? Side-by-side or double-deckers, piled with nappies, feeding kit, potties, shopping (shoplifted?) merchandise–they seem to travel in packs to dominate supermarkets and footpaths. They so clog up the pavements that there is hardly room for the cyclist yobs to squeeze by.

    • jerymp

      And being pushed by someone texting or with it clamped to their ear

      • William_Brown

        Yeah…if they can afford a mobile phone, they shouldn’t have kids! (Eh?)

    • William_Brown

      Yes. And, like the disabled, they get better parking slots at Sainsbury’s! Absolute disgrace! – PC gone mad – (again).

  • Freeworld

    This discussion is well overdue. The most appalling funniest thing I ever witnessed was in a sainsbury cafe. A couple tootled in on their brum brums got into the queue on their brum brums ordered everything possible with chips followed by puddings of the heavier variety and then motored on over to a table where both of them within seconds and with the kind of ease that athletes would envy slid across to sit at the table, after much chewing and swallowing they then repeated the transfer of huge arsxxes back onto their brum brums and off they went…quite astonishing the whole thing

  • Suzy61

    Twenty years ago, on a family holiday to DisneyWorld, we stood in line with the majority whilst our friends in scooters had their own ‘lane’ and were given priority for every service offered. I knew then where we were heading…..

    • gerontius redux

      I’ll get one, but where do I hang the furry dice?

      • Damaris Tighe

        I had a friend with one & I bought her a little skull & crossbones flag!

        • gerontius redux

          Well I am all for swashing the buckle, but where does she put it?
          Maybe someone could march in front holding the flag aloft.

          • Damaris Tighe

            It was only little & she fixed it to the back. Lucky the girl has a sense of humour.

  • Gilbert White

    These things are surely illegal on public safety grounds. The wider issue is more topical , in a three quarter bus shelter I stepped out a fraction to look for a possible bus to be quipped by the hissing jet stream of a saintly push biker, a quick blur with all the hi Ted gear including dayglo halo. If these pavement road hogs are knocked off by an umbrella for instance who is legally responsible in today’s society.

  • MountainousIpswich

    On the Headrow (large main city road in Leeds) outside the City Hall, I once saw an elderly man on a mobility Scooter drive out from the wrong exit of a one way ring road, pulling out into the middle of a two lane ring road of major traffic that was about to start moving on a green light, and drive off against the flow. Shouting abuse at drivers as he did so.

    I didn’t see if he was arrested or not.

  • camjan2

    On Saturday there were no less than seven whizzing around in the main shopping centre. I thought it was the Gran National.

    • red2black

      Mobility Scooter Racing takes place at venues like Buxton Raceway.

  • Cymrugel

    I work in the transport sector and have had some involvement with disability groups that require to use mobility scooters.

    These are not available to anyone except those who have bone fide disabilities that require one. They are also extremely costly, so not things to be bought on a whim. They certainly are not provided by the health service willy-nilly

    Many people with mobility problems pile on weight- as do wheel chair users. Often they are resistant to being confined to the scooter and try to struggle a few yards unassisted. Most have extensive pain both from their disabilities and being confined to a scooter

    This is a gratuitous piece of nastiness aimed at vulnerable people and completely unjustified.

    You should be ashamed of yourself sir

    • VUNCOOL .

      I too have some knowledge of disability and you are wrong.
      These things are available to anyone who can access Amazon and has £300 to spare. A grand will get you something reasonably robust, and there is no test for disability, let alone any test for ability to drive.
      Anecdotal evidence is that they are also the vehicle of choice for people who’ve lost their driving licences for drunken driving, precisely because there is no testing or licence required.

      • Verbatim

        Yes, that’s been my experience with people I know who have one too.
        And they are usually smoking casualties and obesity victims; of course, there are legitimate handicaps that cause people to have these mobility scooters too. But it has become a rort too. Same with ‘cripple stickers’ as my father used to call those handicapped parking vouchers! People pay hard cash for these because they can park anywhere convenient.

    • Emma Street

      I just wanted to show my appreciation of your thoughtful

      • stedman_dantes

        Except it’s neither thoughtful nor knowledgeable.

        A quick google shows you can buy a scooter for under £500. They’re not “extremely” costly, they’re available to anybody who wants to buy one, and you don’t have to have any form of disability.


      • tomgreaves

        and here’s another fun hating over-serious bring-us-all-down and don’t laugh at anything un PC. what a misery guts you are.

      • Cymrugel

        Thanks. Its enough to make you weep sometimes.

    • Ill-Liberal

      My Uncle supplies these vehicles. You can walk straight off the street and buy one now if you like, regardless of health.

      You can also pick up second hand ones from the families of people who have died for pretty much nothing.

      You are talking nonsense.

      • Cymrugel

        So are you saying that the roads are filled with cunning loafers on mobility scooters?
        Are you a bit mad or something?

        • Ill-Liberal

          Not at all. I’m just pointing out that your claim that only the genuinely disabled can lay their hands on one is a clear lie.

          • Cymrugel

            Anyone can lay their hands on anything if they try hard enough. I am not medically qualified but I know enough about mobility problems to know that medication pain and comfort eating can cause such people to bloat up.
            I have never met a single person using a mobility scooter who would not gladly walk if they could – and I have had to rescue any to gamely tried to do so and had to give up in defeat.
            Your attitude is cheap nasty and lacking in basic humanity.
            You are a sad and sorry little person.

    • tomgreaves

      Why you miserable, over serious, grumpy, unfunloving party-pooper you!

      • Cymrugel

        I think hat applies more to the author; “who do these sick people think they are, getting in my way, moving about and enjoying their dinner in full view!”

  • When I lived in Streatham there was a morbidly obese late middle-aged couple, both on mobility scooters, who would visit Wimpey every day for lunch. You could tell when they were in residence as they parked their scooters outside, facing each other, on either side of the door. I wish I’d taken a photo now.

  • tomgreaves

    Yes, and how! Bunteresque blobs with their adipose tissue wobbling like blancmange as they bully their way along pavements need to be unseated, rolled onto the road and forced to walk without the aid of a sausage sandwich, Mars bar, bag of fish and chips or their two litre bottle of Coca Cola to guzzle. They buy all this stuff with their benefit payments for invalidity, which is, of course, conclusively proved to be valid by virtue of the fact that they have a mobility scooter. Funny old world.

  • William_Brown

    Yes, and while we’re at it; How come disabled spaces are nearest to the doors at Sainsbury’s??- They’ve got wheels, whereas I have to walk! – PC gone mad!

    • Ill-Liberal

      I see what you’ve done there. It’s very clever, you must be feeling very pleased with yourself.

      • William_Brown

        Oh, I do, Kes, I do. ; )

        • Ill-Liberal

          Kes was the bird. We can all be petty 😉

  • scepticeu

    They are a menace on pavements, one of them ran over my foot, by the driver reversing without looking what was behind him.

  • Seldom Seen

    Make them pay vehicle tax in full, and we’ll soon see who’s fit enough to walk and who isn’t…

    • red2black

      Rather, we’ll soon see who can afford to pay vehicle tax in full, and who can’t.

  • blandings
  • Medici1

    Try enjoying Disney World or similar venues with your friends and family, while remembering to keep an eye peeled for careening ‘chairs.

    An informal survey disclosed that 82% of riders were obese, while 44% were holding fattening foods while, ahem, driving.

  • justsomeone

    This made me want to get one.

  • justsomeone

    I’m against those people (I use the term ‘people’ loosely) who shuttle around in a ‘mobility scooter’. I’m also against people who walk. I can’t even count how many times a ‘person’ (I’m feeling kind today, they’re as savage as a jihadist) bumped into me or walked slowly making it difficult for me to pass (I may have bumped into him as a result). Another thing I hope to get rid of is the so-called ‘automobile’ or ‘car’. These monstrosities are everywhere these days. Again and again I’ve had to stop walking or else one of these contraptions (and the beasts who drive them) would have flattened me. I’ve heard some people are run over and killed by this hideous modern invention. Not that horses are any better. Some of those in the carriage were perfectly capable of walking, I’ll tell you that. And I’ll tell you another thing or two.
    But where were? Ah yes, the dreaded mobility scooter. Please, let’s be rid of these contraptions.

  • Raoul Gerrits

    As a formerly obese person, giving a mobility person to someone who is morbidly obese is like putting an annorexic person on a weightloss diet. It will only make the problem worse.

  • Steven Peear

    I just hope you never need one there a way of getting out for me,as for being in the way what about all the pushchairs dont look where there going,and as for push bikes well lets not go there

  • John Thomas

    I agree with everything in this article – but I still think the greatest threat to the most vulnerable person in our towns (the pedestrian) is the bicycle – for one thing, there are more of them, and they can do people quite as much damage as motorised scooters, also, they are less easy to see, and come up much faster. Also, cycles invariably cut between road and footpath, and obey no traffic rules. But worst of all is that cyclists have the saintly moral status endowed by the wretched Green religion; they inhabit the moral high ground, and, the air being very thin up there, they have addled brains.

  • JB

    These scooters are extremely dangerous, visitors to the Florida theme parks and their
    families should be warned, the vehicles themselves are dangerous and this is
    compounded if the driver is not competent in handling a 4 wheel
    motorised vehicle. A member of my family has returned from Orlando on crutches and with their ankle in a plaster cast after being hit from behind by a scooter, these vehicles have caused actually bodily harm, their design appears to be floored and can
    grievously injur pedestrians sharing the same pavement/walkway/sidewalk as
    these mobility scooters, the metal plate on the front of these vehicles
    needs to be removed and re-designed immediately before further families are
    seriously injured.

  • mobilityscootersukblog

    The purpose of these mobility scooters is to allow those, who would otherwise be confined to home, freedom of movement. For many people with serious disabilities these mobile armchairs must be liberating machines. TGA Breeze S4

  • Judy

    Here’s an article you might want to read, though it might hit a bit too close to home as far as people like you are concerned.


  • JohnHousecat

    It’s kind of like how humans ended up in the movie WALL-E, huh?

  • Tony Kennedy

    What an absolutely disgusting, vile and outrageous article this is. I hope the high brow journalist that wrote this vitriolic and abusive piece of absolute nonsense never ends up disabled. Another example of so called journalism written purely for effect. It’s bad enough that the government is bashing the disabled without putting this kind of rubbish into people’s minds. A massive 40 people injured! Grow up, more people are injured out buying newspapers than by mobility scooter users. You should be ashamed of yourself. Try writing something important.

    • Sawyer Shepard

      Being fat is not disabled, your comment is patently stupid.

      • Tony Kennedy

        Ha ha talk about missing the point! My argument is referring to how the media creates sensational articles for effect. In this case they are picking on the overweight. This article creates negative imagery around people using mobility scooters. Whether over weight or indeed disabled is irrelevant. This is not helpful for genuine disabled people. This kind of so called reporting is the equivalent of the school bully stood in line shouting at the fat kid. It,s low rent journalism.

        • bb101

          I could tell you what would be helpful for genuinely disabled people. Not having obese lard-arses squeezing themselves into mobility scooters when they don’t require one. Then public opinion could turn back towards sympathy and courtesy rather than being viewed as another fat benefits scrounger.

  • greyhat newman

    all said here is true of the car. further car drivers believe they have the complete right to use the road. above and beyond everyone including other car drivers, reminds me of smokers in the 70’s and 80’s. i am x smoking car driver that does not have a scooter. but if i was walking down the road i would not shove the elderly or infirm aside because they were in my way. something motorist do daily to other drivers.

    • Maurizio

      How can you shove another car driver aside? I’m sorry but if you are so scared to drive maybe you shouldn’t, you would be putting people in danger.

      • greyhat newman

        not a matter of fear of driving, its a matter of living with respect for others.