This article was sourced from Sunshine Coast Daily published on Monday, March 2, 2015. To view the original article please click here
THE Sunshine Coast’s increasing aged population will demand government at all levels delivers the infrastructure to safely accommodate mobility scooters, according to an international expert based at Caloundra.
Lloyd Walker of Golden Beach, a rehabilitation engineer specialising in mobility devices, said local authorities on the Sunshine Coast were doing a reasonable job but had a focus on bicycles over scooters for people with disability or restricted movement.
There are 120,000 mobility scooter users in Australia with that number growing at 9% annually and expected to reach 280,000 within a decade.
Mr Walker chairs the Australian Standards for Mobility Devices and two international committees.
He said the Coastal Pathways network was excellent, as was the approach being taken in new developments.
However care had to be taken with gradients, with any greater than 10% capable of tipping mobility scooters toward the roadway.
Mr Walker said users lacked stability and trunk control and could be easily tipped from their scooters if required to steer quickly away from a hazard.
He said councils were proactive in grinding out footpath lifts that posed a trip risk but needed to be aware that if the angle was not corrected it could cause a rocking effect that destabilised mobility scooters.
A new survey has found that cars reversing from driveways pose the biggest safety concern for mobility scooter users in Australia.
The Blue Badge Mobility Scooter Safety and Insurance Survey also found 25% of mobility scooter users had been involved in an accident and 38% were in a near accident at least once a year.
Blue Badge Insurance is Australia’s first specialist mobility scooter insurance provider.
Cars reversing out of driveways worried 33% of those surveyed, and 31% felt at risk when crossing the road.
Cracks in footpaths were a concern to 52% of users, and 41.5% found the lack of footpath ramps in their area a barrier to getting around.
Mr Walker said local councils needed to become more aware of infrastructure issues around retirement villages and other areas with a high population of elderly and target pathway upgrades accordingly.