Andy Bundy secretary of Havant Area Disability Access Group continues the debate about mobility vehicles and pedestrians
But there is a bigger issue here. Our organisation’s mission statement is ‘promoting access to buildings, services and information in the Borough of Havant.’ Implicit in this statement is the promotion of equality, and in this, to be taken seriously, we must consider everyone.
I’ve done a lot of research recently, and the most recent accident figures from the Department of Transport are for 2013 for the whole of Great Britain.
During this period, only 28 reported accidents occurred. You can see the full set in Excel format here: http://bit.ly/1Up8r43.
The argument, in simplest terms, is about who has primacy over pedestrian footpaths and precincts – and the answer is nobody. The only legal regulation is over what types of vehicle CANNOT use these footpaths.
The highway code itself strongly recommends all three classes of wheelchair and mobility scooter use the pavement and other off-road areas in preference to the road.
There is a speed limit for mobility vehicles, whether scooter or wheelchair, of 4mph. The highway code is confusing, though. One section requires mobility vehicles to give pedestrians priority and consideration, while another section requires users to slow down to allow pedestrians time to get out of the way. So the law is of little help.
If we are honest, footpaths and precincts are shared areas for everyone. At the end of the day, all users of pedestrianized areas and footpaths need to show both courtesy to other permitted users, while taking responsibility for their own safety through more consideration of other users.
As with cars, if someone walks out in front of you, especially an unsupervised toddler or child, the only solution is an emergency stop.
This requires reaction time and time to slow down. Cyclists cannot simply stop, like pedestrians, nor can mobility vehicles.
For powered wheelchairs especially, when properly configured they are designed NOT to stop immediately.
Until either the police, council staff or another agency assumes responsibility for enforcing the law in pedestrianized areas, including footpaths, we are ALL responsible for our own safety, and of course, for our children.