Mobility scooter users urged to slow down after Whanganui supermarket incident

A Whanganui woman seriously injured in a collision with a mobility scooter is urging users to slow down in built-up areas.

The 89-year-old is still recovering from head and leg injuries she suffered while doing her grocery shopping at a central city supermarket on April 13.

Bev, who asked for only her first name to be used, said she didn’t press charges against the woman who caused her injuries; however, she would like to urge scooter users to take more care.

“My daughter and I were in the foyer area of the supermarket when a woman came in through the sliding door on her scooter.

“We had nowhere to go to get out of her way and expected her to brake and let us by but she kept coming. She knocked me down and ran over my legs and my daughter Debbie also had her shoulder wrenched out of the socket when the scooter hit the trolley she was holding.”

Mother and daughter said the woman on the scooter stopped after the accident and was checked by St John staff who said she was uninjured.

“She said she expected us to move out of her way but we had nowhere to go and mum can’t move that fast anyway,” Debbie said.

Bev, who uses a walking frame to aid her mobility, spent several weeks in hospital after the accident.

Mobility scooter user Noelene Lane, who established the Whanganui group Pedestrians on Wheels, said an accident like that should not happen.

“It is a matter of being courteous and behaving as a pedestrian among other pedestrians,” Lane said.

“The standard advice is that we should not be travelling faster than the average person walking in high-usage pedestrian areas.”

Lane said although scooters had a maximum speed of 15km/h, users should not be travelling that fast in built-up areas and shops.

“Business owners are not able to ban mobility scooters from their premises so it is up to users to be courteous.

“While some users have the ability to park their scooters and walk short distances, some of us can’t do that so we have to be considerate in the places we visit. You can set your scooter on a low speed and that’s what I do when I’m in the supermarket.”

Lane said there was no training or licensing requirement for users and she wondered if there should be a proviso for that.

“Most people who use mobility scooters are careful and competent but there are always people who don’t take good care when using any motorised vehicle.

“They are not toys and they can cause damage so be careful.”

Whanganui Police Sergeant Colin Wright said the accident that caused Bev’s injuries was the first of its kind he had seen.

“Most often the mobility scooter user is the victim and we deal with situations where they have been hit by a car backing out of a driveway, for instance,” Wright said.

“In [this] instance, we could have charged the person with operating the scooter in an inconsiderate manner but the victim didn’t want to press charges.

“An incident like that would be an infringement and attract a fine rather than a court appearance.”

Bev said she was not “pointing the finger” at the scooter user at the supermarket or at people on mobility scooters in general.

“I see a lot of people riding them very considerately and I’m concerned that everyone on our streets and footpaths should be looking out for each other.”

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