Standards Australia has released a draft standard for mobility scooters that effectively bans them from being used on public transport.
The new standard is open to public comment until August 7th, 2017. A new “Blue” label will be required for all mobility scooter users to obtain access to public transport. This label will only be issued to those scooters that can meet a very limited turning circle capacity.
According to Peter Fraser, the Managing Director of Scooters Australia, one of the oldest retailers of mobility products, it will be very difficult for any mobility scooter to meet these requirements.
“The problem is that there are almost no mobility scooters on the market anywhere in the world that would be able to meet that standard,” said Mr Fraser.
“Not even small compact scooters specially designed for public transport would be eligible for a blue label,” he said.
The draft standard requires mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs to be able to do a u-turn within a 1500mm radius, after reversing into a small parking area on the train or bus.
“While some small electric wheelchairs might be able to manoeuvre into this tight spot, it’s almost impossible to do this with even a compact mobility scooter,” said Mr Fraser.
“It seems like Standards Australia are not interested in looking at how this will effect all those scooter owners who want to use public transport of any kind, even trains where there is plenty of room to park and manoeuvre the scooter,” he said.
Mr Fraser said that the mobility scooter market has changed considerably over the last twenty years with a much greater emphasis on travel and advances in scooter design that specifically target the travel market.
Portable scooters now make up nearly 30% of sales, whereas 20 years ago it was not much more than 5%. With a healthier older demographic and baby boomers moving into retirement, a new market segment has opened up in travel mobility.
“People now take their folding scooters overseas on aeroplanes, or on cruise ships, and naturally want to be able to use them on public transport,” said Mr Fraser.
“But with these new standards being proposed, a whole segment of the community in Australia will be prohibited from using public transport just because they need to use a mobility scooter,” he said.
“That will impact on overseas travelers coming to Australia who use a mobility scooter, and will make it that much harder for Australians who want to take their scooter overseas on holidays,” he said
“It’s even arguable that the new standard might outlaw all portable and compact scooters because of other proposed restrictions, and that would seriously disadvantage even more people using mobility scooters,” said Mr Fraser.