A mobility scooter can be a life-changer, giving you the freedom to accomplish day to day tasks that most people take for granted. But is this independence compromised when it comes to negotiating the streets of London? The capital can be a challenge for users of mobility scooters, but don’t panic – with careful planning you can use what’s on offer to your advantage.
If you’re unlucky enough to have an accident, your policy will cover your scooter and protect you and any other parties involved. Consult the Highway Code for guidelines on the use of scooters on roads and pavements as rules vary depending on the scooter.
The use of scooters on public transport is usually at the discretion of the operator and the dimensions of your vehicle may need to fall within those specified by the UK reference wheelchair. You may find that for health and safety reasons you are denied carriage, so make sure you check with the operator before you travel. Visit the Transport for London (TfL) website for a good range of maps and detailed information on resources for disabled travellers and consider taking part in their Travel Mentoring scheme, whereby a trained mentor accompanies you on your journey to build your confidence. Make sure you carry TfL’s recently launched Travel Support Card, which can be used on all forms of London transport – simply fill out the card, specifying what help you require and present it to a member of staff.
Mobility scooters are permitted on the underground, although only a small percentage of stations are totally step-free. Download the Step-free and Avoiding Stairs tube guides from the TfL website and plan your accessible journey online using the advanced options in the journey planner tool.
The new Mobility Aid Recognition scheme from TfL has just made taking your scooter on a bus a whole lot easier. Call the Travel Mentoring Service for confirmation that your scooter is one of 86 models considered suitable for travel on London’s buses. You’ll be issued with a Mobility Aid card, which will give the driver the green light to let you board.
Trains and trams
A number of rail operators will allow you to travel, but you may need to confirm the dimensions of your scooter with the relevant company in advance. Visit the National Rail website for further details. If you’re planning on travelling by tram, contact the operator of your local service in advance.
Docklands Light Railway
The DLR, which connects the City, the Docklands and part of East London, was designed in the 1980s with disabled and older people in mind. Stations are equipped with lifts, ramps and easy access to the trains and if you have any concerns about using the trains, DLR Community Ambassadors can arrange an accessibility trip for you.
The decision on whether to carry your scooter will depend on the driver and the size of the vehicle. Look online for private hire companies with specially adapted vehicles.