A Mobility Scooter comes to Stay - Part 4
If the situation with four-wheel scooters was just a little more open, then an extension to the seat chassis and an extra piece for the tiller would be possible, which would at least present the increasing number of disabled people of my size with the option of a four-wheel scooter.
So, having entered the lottery of mobility scooter suitability, what other considerations arise?
When we finally opted to go for the Toulouse, we then entered the after-sales options market. Foremost in my mind, having read some leading articles in newspapers .. unhelpful and condemnatory for the most part in The Daily Mail .. and some articles on various internet sites, was the knotty question of insurance. Packages exhibit a marked similarity throughout all of the offers which we saw .. suggesting again, that actually an immature market prevails in the field of scooter and rider insurance, as well as in that of the scooters themselves. We finally bought the package offered by our Scooter seller, something that I would wager is not an unusual occurrence.
I must confess at this point, that this particular purchase was not the best package for us .. or for the job it had to do. It was merely the most convenient, since none of the others offered anything better. To provide an example of what I mean by this, all such packages include a recovery and get-you-home aspect which maxes out at around £55. All packages seem to rest on the sum of £5 a day for the hire of a replacement scooter whilst yours is away .. getting mended presumably. Enquiries of taxi companies with suitable vehicles did not conclusively rest upon £55 as a particularly reasonable figure for recovery of a scooter and rider from anywhere but the most local area.
Nowhere could we find any hirers of mobility scooters save for one in the town centre called ShopmobiIity .. no relation to the pseudo-manufacturer/importer of the same name .. and who's rates for hire could be a good deal more than £5 a day. In our case this would be largely academic, given the apparently uncommon nature of our scooter and the unlikelihood that said ShopmobiIity might have one to hand.
In short .. the main benefit of scooter insurance is that of the provision of third-party indemnity against accident .. as with your car. Therefore you really need to insure yourself and your scooter against any accident you might have or become involved with. No policy we were offered failed to offer this cover.
The way the usual suspects are currently going, as commented above, it is likely that insurance will be a legal requirement for mobility scooter riders in the not-too- distant future anyway. Prices for policies, at present, are around the £60 mark.
Next up was accommodation for the scooter. Our old cottage is some four feet above street level. The front door is a difficult proposition for me, never mind a scooter .. requiring the ascent of four steep steps. A friend of ours built me additional steps to the side of these, using one of those heavy scaffolding batten planks for material. To the rear, he built us a staircase with low-riser steps in rough timber and with ribbed decking planks for steps. Again, no place for a scooter
Now outside scooter accommodation comes in several forms. There is your basic cover .. really a sort of waterproof bag with an elasticated mouth. The idea, of course, is that you entirely cover your scooter with it, and pull it down over the sides. The elastic prevents it being whipped away by wind. A sort of waterproof mop-cap for your scooter.
We got one of these in a 'starter pack' which we also bought at the time of purchasing our scooter .. like the insurance.
A pattern of point-of-sale extras begins to emerge?
The starter pack contained, in addition to this mop-cap cover, a bag to fit over the back of the chair which also had a pair of tubular pockets either side of it .. for my walking sticks. Good idea? Well yes it was but .. there's always a but .. my sticks are now fitted with the same larger, harder-wearing, ferules used on aluminium NHS sticks and crutches, and these quickly tore the seams on this otherwise potentially useful bag.
Also contained in this 'starter pack' was a novel bag to fit over the chair arm .. a sort of nod to the Cowboy-type saddlebag .. and a cover for inside and a cover to go over the top of the shopper's basket, which is usually to be found fitted to the front of the tiller on most mobility scooters we have seen.
The mop-cap was alright for a temporary refuge we felt, but something more substantial was needed for the long term.
The concept of a scooter garage ranges from a shed or outhouse, down through the device we eventually settled upon, and ending at the mop-cap.
For example, look at this...
Small Shelter / Garage - aka 'The Bike Hut' Motorcycles, Scooters, Quads, Jet-Skis, Mobility Scooters
For £150, it is very good value. It stands 6' 4' high, and is 5' 3' wide, and 8' 6' long. Too large for the space we wanted to use. But an excellent buy all the same.
Incidentally, it is true to state that we found the articles in our 'starter pack' available individually and at far higher prices, if collected together that way.
The device we actually bought reminds me a lot of the hood on the large perambulators which mothers used when I was little.
You drive the scooter over this steel plate fitted to the bottom of the frame.
The scooter's weight then acts as anchor for the garage. And you fold the frames out and over to completely cover the scooter .. as a young mother would have unfolded her pram hood, all those years ago.
The cover is then secured by the strap you can see on the ground in the photo on the right, to the velcro pad that you can also see there on the cover. The strap is fixed to the steel plate upon which you drive the scooter.
We shopped around a bit and found, as is now evidently the norm in the business, wildly varying prices. Eventually we found a deluxe model (thicker cover and better seams) for £149 all-in.