Vancouver Police Department Const. Heather Brown says there is a growing menace to safety on Vancouver’s sidewalks and she’s got a plan to help.
“I’m getting more and more complaints about scooter users bombing up and down sidewalks,” said Brown. “And people have also told me about getting their ankles clipped in Safeway and in malls.”
Brown, who oversees the Collingwood Community Policing Centre, has organized the Scooting Seniors Roadeo at Kingsgate Mall this Thursday, to train seniors and people with disabilities on the safe use of a motorized mobility scooter. Scooting Seniors is sponsored by the Vancouver Police Foundation, Shoppers HomeHealth Care, Kingsgate Mall, New Horizons and the community policing centre.
Brown said that while motorized scooters and wheelchairs allow users an opportunity to be mobile, there’s often no training involved.
“If they get their scooter through their doctor or physiotherapist, they might get some training,” said Brown. “But often it’s just people going out and buying a scooter for their elderly parents, but no one shows them how to use it properly.”
That lack of training has led to accidents, including seniors tipping the vehicles over. Brown added there are no government requirements or standards when it comes to motorized scooters, some of which can reach speeds of 15 killometres an hour.
“These scooters can really enhance their lifestyle, but the users should really know how to use them,” said Brown, who added that as our population ages the number of scooter users will continue to grow.
The “roadeo” will offer scooter users tips in the safe and legal operation of their mobility equipment. Users will drive their scooter through an obstacle course to learn how to turn safely around corners, back up and go over a curb. As they finish driving down the straight stretch, a police officer with a laser will record their speed. Coast Mountain Bus Company will be on hand with a bus so scooter users can learn how to enter and exit public transit. Brown said the event is an ideal opportunity for anyone considering purchasing a scooter to try one out. Once they’ve completed the course, participants will be provided with lunch and entertainment. The first 200 participants will receive a reflective vest.
Wendy St. Marie, who started using a mobility scooter six years ago and is now transitioning to a motorized wheelchair due to a recent decrease in balance, will be at the event to offer advice to participants.
The 56-year-old St. Marie, who has lost much of her mobility due to multiple sclerosis, called her motorized scooter a “life saver.” She agreed many scooter users seem oblivious to others around them.
“What I’ve noticed is there are a lot of seniors speeding way faster than they should,” said St. Marie. “But then some scooter users have never even driven a car before, so they need some training.”
Scooting Seniors runs from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. June 28 in the upper parking lot of Kingsgate Mall, near the corner of East Broadway and Kingsway. To sign up and book a time, call 604-717-2935 or email email@example.com.