Safe Choices Begin With Your Choice of Scooter
Before buying a scooter, be sure to check with an Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist to ensure that the model you select best meets your needs. Most suppliers will bring different scooters to you so that you can try them before making your purchase.
Considerations When Purchasing Your Scooter
Before you purchase a scooter, the following should be considered:
- Size - Consider ease of operation, turning ability, suitability of the wheel size for the terrain you will be traveling on (i.e. indoors, outdoors or both), and the size of elevator doors and the width of hallways and doorways at the places you travel frequently.
- Power - How far can you travel before the battery needs re-charging?
Braking System - How long does it take to stop the scooter?
- Parking/Storage - Where will the scooter be stored? Is there an electrical outlet available in the storage area for charging your scooter?
- Comfort - Consider the seating, backrest, etc.
Think Safe! Obey Rules for Pedestrians
By law, scooters are classified as "Pedestrians". Therefore, when you are operating your scooter, you must obey all rules for pedestrians such as:
- Use sidewalks wherever possible. If there are no sidewalks or if sidewalks do not have scooter accessible curb cuts, travel on the far left side of the road facing traffic.
- Cross at pedestrian crosswalks. Check for traffic before crossing.
- If there is no crosswalk available, stop, look both ways, and proceed only when all approaching vehicles have come to a full stop.
- Make "eye contact" with motorists or pedestrians before crossing their path to confirm their intention to stop.
- Obey all traffic control signs and devices.
- Operation of scooters in bicycle lanes is prohibited.
Be a Courteous Pedestrian
- Slow down when traveling around pedestrians and avoid traveling too closely behind or obstructing them.
- Keep to the right on sidewalks and avoid honking your horn. Ask people to let you pass.
- If you meet a friend on the sidewalk, pull to the side to let other pedestrians pass more easily.
- Use caution when traveling close to store fronts. If you are too close to a building, someone could walk into you as they are leaving the building.
Transporting Your Scooter
When choosing a scooter, it is important to choose one that can be carried easily by car, van, or transit. Ask the vendor the following:
- Can it be transported by car or van?
- Does it require disassembling in order to be transported in the trunk of a vehicle?
- Is it transportable by transit buses or HandyDART? Most scooters longer than 45 inches cannot be accommodated by Bus.
Practice taking your scooter on transit. Coast Mountain Bus Company does "scooter try-outs" one day of each month at the Oakridge Transit Centre (949 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver). To make an appointment, call 604-264-5420.
Learn to Use Your Scooter
It is essential that you know how to operate your scooter properly before venturing out into the public. When you first purchase your scooter, find a quiet parking lot and practice there. Once you feel comfortable that you can safely operate your scooter, find a friend who will travel with you on foot or scooter for your first few trips.
In addition, make sure you read the manual and any other safety information that may be supplied with your scooter.
Safe Manoeuvring of Curb Cuts
Take curb cuts, driveways and ramps "head on" and always drive on the most level area of the curb cut, even if it means moving outside of the crosswalk lines. If you drive sideways on a curb cut, you could tip over.
Know Your Area
Get familiar with the most navigable routes in your neighbourhood. Be aware of the locations of curbs that do not have curb cuts or streets that do not have sidewalks so you can avoid these routes if possible by planning ahead.
Allow yourself plenty of time as you may need to take an alternative route if unforeseeable circumstances arise, such as construction. You may need to cross the street, take another route, or even back track.
Be aware that when you are traveling by scooter you are at a height disadvantage to the other users of the road and sidewalk. Make sure your scooter has the following:
- Brightly coloured clothing
- Fluorescent orange bike flag in the back seat of the scooter
- Light on back of scooter
- Light on front of scooter
- Reflective strips on sides, front and back of scooter
Be Prepared for Unexpected Circumstances
Carry a cellular phone or enough change to make a phone call from a pay phone and carry phone numbers in case you encounter unexpected circumstances. You may want to take emergency phone numbers onto your scooter.
In an emergency situation, attract the attention of a passer-by and ask them to phone for help. In the Lower Mainland, you can dial "911" for emergency assistance.
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