Mobility Scooters on cycle paths

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thomasrynne
Mobility Scooters on cycle paths

I read here
http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2011/05/houten-visit-and-discussion.html
that mobility scooters can use Dutch cycle paths.

With the UK’s ageing population I expect the number of mobility scooters will increase and I imagine users of mobility scooters currently experience many of the same problems that cyclists do.

As well as campaigning for Dutch style infrastructure, perhaps we should also campaign to give users of mobility scooters the right to use this new infrastructure.

This could help to demonstrate that we want Dutch infrastructure for the whole of the 98% of people who don’t cycle, not just the 2% who already do.

Just a thought.

Does anyone know if users of mobility scooters would benefit from cycle paths or have experience of scooters mixing with bikes in the Netherlands?

Jim

This is one of the things we’re going to be looking at when we go to the Netherlands next month on our Study Tour with David Hembrow. On Worthing Promenade where cycling has been reinstated, bicycles ridden by people of all ages mix with mobility scooters (of which there are many) and people out for a stroll. However, it works as a shared use path because it is incredibly wide and also because it is not an A to B route – it is part of NCN 2 that terminates at the Eastern end where cyclists have to rejoin the road. It is therefore a leisure route lessening the urgency and therefore potential for conflict.

This would form part of a discussion with mobility groups (and a separate page on our wiki) but I would envisage that if we were to implement infrastructure based on a Dutch model the roads in residential/urban contexts would be calmed to point that they are accessible for all, with home zones and bicycle streets where a car is a ‘guest’ meaning there would be space for bicycles and mobility scooters to coexist quite happily (and indeed children playing outside, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves). Where greater segregation is implemented, (on roads over 50mph) it has to be built to a standard that can take an 8 year old cycling to school as well as a road cyclist heading out to the open byways and lanes for a club run. The point being that it has to be spectacularly good and again, there is no reason why mobility scooters can’t be included. We mustn’t forget that the bicycle for many elderly persons is regarded as a very useful mobility aid.

I’m just thinking aloud though. What I do know is that whenever I see a mobility scooter take to the road in Worthing Town Centre because the pavement has been blocked by parked cars etc I can hear the intake of breath from onlookers and motorists. It doesn’t have to be like this.

sallyhinch

For all the reasons you suggest. Is it illegal for them to use bike paths now? My understanding is that pedestrians can use bike paths if they choose to (however cyclists may get upset about it) and I would have thought that if disability scooters can use the pavement they should equally be able to use a bike lane.

AKA TownMouse

christhebull

SO basically there are 3 classes of “invalid carriage” as the DVLA tells us on their site.

Class 1 (manual wheelchair) and Class 2 (powered, limited to 4 mph) are intended for pavement use.

Class 3 mobility scooters are limited to 8 mph and are registered with the DVLA and equipped for road use with lights and indicators and a rear view mirror (being motor vehicles) but are also allowed on pavements at 4 mph , but according to the “code of practice” here, cannot be used in cycle or bus lanes despite being allowed on bridleways and in places with “no vehicles” signs which apply to cyclists.

What this seems to mean in practice is that mobility scooters are used on pavements unless it ends / gets obstructed / etc. In terms of cycle infrastructure, the mobility scooter can be reasonably considered a “minimum” in terms of speed and manoeuvrability*, which solutions to awkward manoeuvres can be based around (a fast, confident cyclist may have little trouble turning right the “normal” way, but a mobility scooter user would probably prefer to execute a hook turn)

christhebull

I’ve since found the relevant section of the Highway Code. Some particular points that I think are relevant:

37
When you are on the road you should obey the guidance and rules for other vehicles; when on the pavement you should follow the guidance and rules for pedestrians.

38
Pavements are safer than roads and should be used when available…

44 …There are several options for dealing with right turns, especially turning from a major road. If moving into the middle of the road is difficult or dangerous, you can
stop on the left-hand side of the road and wait for a safe gap in the traffic
negotiate the turn as a pedestrian, i.e. travel along the pavement and cross the road between pavements where it is safe to do so. Class 3 users should switch the vehicle to the lower speed limit when on pavements

darditti
darditti's picture

Yes, I think this is very important, and a huge part of the justification for a campaign for high-quality cycle tracks has to be the need for providing for mobility for an ageing population in which disability is increasingly common. This means that part of the design requirements for the tracks are usability for both all pedal-powered disability carriages and electric-powered ones. We might also consider whether mopeds below a certain top speed should be allowed on cycle tracks. I believe this is the case in the NL, but stand to be corrected.

At present users of mobility scooters have huge problems negotiating our towns and cities, and the obstacles to them are similar to those facing cyclists, but more of a barrier to them, as the users cannot of course “dismount” or carry or push their machine past obstructions. They have difficulty getting up kerbs, negotiating tight spaces and adverse cambers and coping with poor surfaces. The KSI rate for scooter users on the road is high.

At present, the disabled and elderly constituencies are prominent in criticism of “the scourge of cyclists on pavements”. Our campaign for cycle infrastructure needs to achieve a realignment of social forces, so that those exact people can see that we are campaigning for what they need, and will support us, greatly increasing our political weight.

David
Vole O’Speed

christhebull

I know it’s easy to mock them as being aimed at the wealthy and physically inactive (rather than the disabled) but if Segways were ever to be legalised, then they would also need to be catered for. They have a modest top speed of 12.5 mph and occupy a similar width to cyclists, but are shorter and therefore might have a better chance of navigating the chicanes you find on cycle paths than, say, a tandem. Also, cycle paths should be suitable for handcycles / race wheelchairs, as these occupy the same size as an upright or recumbent trike, but the users are probably less able to dismount when they get to, say, a toucan crossing with a “cyclists dismount” sign (I know you can ride across them, so it’s worrying what certain officials DON’T appear to know)

Regarding mopeds, the Dutch have the separate categories of snorfietsen (max 25 km/h, blue licence plate, no helmet required) and bromfietsen (max 50 km/h, yellow licence plate, helmets required). The former is considered a bicycle in traffic unless otherwise specifically prohibited (usually in pedestrian zones) whereas the latter must be ridden on the road unless specifically allowed to use a cycle path (usually on rural or arterial routes with high traffic speeds, or for certain shortcuts, bridges, and permeable road-blocks). The latter variety is often exempted from the same restrictions cycles and snorfietsen are exempted from (eg one way streets) with the use of a different symbol to that for cycles and motorcycles.

There are a few examples of cycle paths in the UK allowing mopeds and / or motorcycles under 50 cc (there is a difference between those two terms because the latter is not restricted to 30 mph and can only be ridden by those 17 or over, but it is still prohibited from motorways. The reason for this is so derestricted mopeds can legally use cycle paths on certain motorway bridges) but these are generally rare, probably due to the popularity of sports mopeds in the 1970s – indeed the “and mopeds” plate that could be installed below a “cycles only” sign was depreciated many years ago. (Before this supplementary plate was introduced the “no cycles” and “cycle path” signs applied equally to mopeds and cycles)

There is annoyance in the Netherlands about the snorfietsen however. While this classification was originally intended for bicycles with auxiliary motors such as the Cyclemaster, which are still quite popular in the Netherlands (UK legislation and traffic restrictions mean that an e-bike is a more practical idea over here), they are also found on modern 50 cc scooters that are promptly derestricted and thus cause annoyance (and a decrease in subjective safety) to cyclists, hence a campaign in Amsterdam to ban them from cycle paths.

markbikeslondon

Didn’t the founder of Segway recently fall into a ravine and die on one? Scary.

Seriously, I love the CEoGB – there’s some really great research above, all crowd sourced and being discussed by level headed people with no flare ups, temper tantrums and arguments: long may it continue!

I’m all for allowing mobility scooters, hand cycles and wheelchairs use cycle ways. I suspect some of our roadie friends would be horrified to hear me say it but it’s a question of equity in the city at the end of the day.

christhebull

I should also point out that in addition to ridden mobility scooters, motor tricycles exist which allow wheelchair users to remain seated while riding a delta configuration trike. There are large motorcycle derived versions, but also small, low speed electrically powered versions which are suited to cycle paths, a bit like the Christiania trike for wheelchairs, but controlled by the wheelchair user rather than pedalled by someone else. I do however think that they are slightly wider and somewhat faster than normal mobility scooters, so that would need to be considered (aside from the legal aspects of course).

tombaileytyne

when we’ve done presentations to try and convince folk of the value of dutch style bike lanes we always include a photo of bikes + mobility cart sharing a lane as they pass high street shops. strapline – “bike lanes are not just for cyclists”. Will try an dfind link to photo and post latter.

David Hembrow

A better link to see mobility scooters and such-like on Dutch cycle paths is this one as it shows all the posts on the blog referring to people cycling with disabilities.

In Dutch law, a wheelchair is more or less equivalent to a bicycle. This is beneficial in several ways. The excellent cyclepath network gives places for wheelchair and electric mobility scooter users to ride without having to tackle the traffic. At the same time, no gap narrower than one metre is allowed on those cyclepaths because it is important that wheelchair and mobility scooter users must be able to access them.

smsm1

The problem with most cycle paths in the UK is that they would be too narrow to be able to accomodate mobility scooters or mopeds that are common place in being used on cycle paths in the Netherlands and Belgium.

I think that it would be a great idea to allow them on cycle paths as they will travel at a more similar speed to cyclists rather than cars and other larger vehicles, thus it would be safer for those all road users.

sallyhinch

They were a bit of a pest on the Dutch bike lanes! Not dangerous, exactly, but annoying! If there’s one thing we DON’T copy about Dutch infrastructure it would be that. Though I suppose I’d prefer to have them than to have all of the nonsensical gates and barriers put in at the entrances to UK paths to keep motorbikes out that also keep out tandems, cargo bikes and mobility scooters

AKA TownMouse

David Hembrow

Even mopeds actually also have a positive effect. Not always, but sometimes.

Direct cycle-paths between towns and villages (i.e. the proper ones, not the recreational paths) have to be designed to accommodate the speed of mopeds at up to 45 km/h. They can’t have tight bends. As a result, they have to accommodate cyclists at any cycleable speed.

Having said that, brommers can be a nuisance. They’re not allowed on cycle-paths within towns and villages but in some places they are quite common on them anyway. This varies a lot from place to place.

christhebull

That does make sense, however I think that while allowing moped riders to use cycle paths of a sufficient standard along major rural roads is a good idea, this is probably not the case in urban roads; however the need for unobstructed access will still be there due to cargo tricycles etc.

I sometimes think somewhat jokingly that the only cycle lanes or cycle paths worth using are those which are used by motorcyclists / maintenance vehicles. It is worth pointing out that bus lanes do not generally have anything to stop car drivers using them. Some bus only roads have car traps, but most marked bus lanes are open to taxis which are physically the same as cars, so instead cameras are used (if there even is enforcement).

Thinking of mobility scooters, I think ensuring cycle infrastructure is suitable for them (whilst making sure faster cyclists can pass them) should help ease pedestrian fears regarding them (and hopefully us as an organisation amongst elderly groups), even though they are probably not regarded as badly in the local pavements as the pavement cyclist due to their comparative rarity and slower speed.

raymondox

The reason I say this is we need to remember that there are people who use tricycles. These are about the same size as scooters and usually travel at about 8mph or less. Cycle paths need to take into account all cycle types. For example I am the front rider on a tandem for a blind cyclist, there are many cycle paths which don’t take tandems into account never mind tricycles.

Whether scooters are allowed on them is another thing but if the paths are wide enough it would certainly help.

sallyhinch

…but I’ve been interested in doing that (front rider for a blind cyclist) for a while – how did you get into that?

AKA TownMouse

Dr C.
Dr C.'s picture

Perhaps rather than conceding to low-power mopeds as in The Netherlands we could use the continued growth of e-bikes as a means to ensure that paths are built to an appropriate quality to carry faster cycle traffic (in addition to making cycling accessible to a wider section of the population). As for riding a tandem with a blind stoker, I am also interested. My lovely girlfriend has a friend in her 70s who is blind but wants to give a tandem a try (having not cycled since becoming blind).

sallyhinch

http://www.vista.org.uk/

Or they may know people who can

AKA TownMouse

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