Mobility scooters are not just a convenient mode of transport for senior citizens. They make a real difference to the quality-of-life older people can expect. Maintaining a degree of independence as we age is essential for most people. Getting out of the house and seeing a little bit of life is also very important. If your ability to walk is diminished for any reason, a scooter provides the independence all adults require. What are the rules for mobility scooters, and where are mobility scooters allowed? Those are questions we’ll answer for you.
- What Are the Rules for Mobility Scooters?
Mobility scooters look a little bit like a golf cart, only with one seat, but they offer a different purpose. Where a golf cart helps to carry clubs and a weary golfer or two across a five-mile course, a mobility scooter typically needs to take one person a few yards away from their home to the local shop or visit a neighbor at the end of the street. A mobility scooter isn’t a toy. They’re built for a purpose. Some are slow with four small wheels. Others have three wheels and resemble a motorbike. Some will hit 4mph. Others reach 18mph. You can buy two-seater or mobility scooters with a lot of luggage space. They’re not designed to a set of rules, but there are laws they must adhere to.
It isn’t easy to give a simple answer to the question, where can you use a mobility scooter because that depends on where you live. You might be able to operate your scooter in the street. You may even be able to use it on the road. Some areas will allow you to use it in your neighborhood, but can you imagine being able to take one through Times Square at peak pedestrian times? You can take one on the subway in New York, but you’ll need to plan your journey so you use stations that have elevators. Ultimately, people understand the purpose of mobility scooters, so bus drivers will open a separate door or pull down a ramp to allow access, and pedestrians will be accommodating.
If you live in a gated community, you might face some restrictions. The same can be said some anyone in a community with a homeowner’s association. There are often rules governing the use of mobility scooters to protect other members of the community, particularly children who can be hurt if run into by a scooter. If you live in a gated community, you should read the rules for your neighborhood which will cover the use of mobility scooters.
Some scooters are capable of speeds up to 18mph. While that sounds like a high top speed for a small four-wheeled vehicle, it’s not fast enough for main roads. Can I drive a mobility scooter on the road? That’s a question most users eventually ask when they want to go a little further from their home, perhaps to the doctor. Most jurisdictions don’t permit the use of mobility scooters on the road. Even if you find they are allowed on the streets near your home, driving one on the road is not recommended. They’re too small for other road users to see and offer no protection if they’re hit by a car or even a motorbike. They don’t provide any protection from the weather either, and they’re too slow to keep up with traffic. If you’re considering using it in the bike lane, that’s no safer. Those lanes are designed for cyclists. You’ll be getting in their way.
No license is needed to operate a mobility scooter. Unlike a recreational vehicle like a scooter or a golf cart, you don’t need to register a mobility scooter with your local Department of Motor Vehicles. If your scooter is faster than the typical 5mph limit most manage, you’ll need to check with the manufacturer as it may be classed as a recreational vehicle and therefore need to be registered.