Thursday, October 24, 2013
COPD and using the TravelScoot in the UK as Transportation
I’ve had my TravelScoot now for about four months and am delighted with it. What I looked for was something different from most scooter buyers. I don’t have a car so I needed it to handle ordinary pavements and to travel on public transport, including British mainline trains, which I will return to as the info may be useful to anyone visiting this country.
I have COPD which means I cant walk very far without stopping for breath, but I am otherwise fairly fit, with the lower body mobility to sway in reaction to any lateral slope of the ground. The only serious problem I have had is turning left on an uphill slope, so I get off and push.
I initially tried another make which folded down very quickly and stayed in one piece.
However it had three problems. One that it had very little ground clearance and weighed about seventy pounds. The main problem however was that, with the necessarily high centre of gravity, its narrow wheelbase made it dangerous on uneven pavements.
The wider wheelbase and the lighter weight of the TravelScoot therefore made it the obvious choice - the only problem being that when folded you are surrounded with bits and pieces.
(Remember I have no handy car boot to pack it away in)
The solution I devised works fairly well. I have bought a 23inch (internal measurement) sports bag which takes the seat, crosspiece, canvas sling and the battery. This I sling over my left shoulder with my shopping bags in my left hand and carry the frame with my right. I can manage this for a short distance.
The longest trip so far was from my home town of Belper to a COPD meeting at Nottingham, involving travelling by train, tram and bus.
Talking them in reverse order, practically all buses in Britain apart from long distance coaches have low floor entrances and space for wheelchairs. Generally these are in demand by mothers with enormous push chairs so I usually fold the TravelScoot up. In this case however it was the hospital bus, which I guessed would be used to carrying scooters, and a very short journey, so I carried it aboard without folding it.
The tram car was dead easy. A number of large cities in Britain now have tram networks and the platform of the tram aligns exactly with the pavement with a very small gap. You can simply drive on and off.
Now we come to the train. Train services in Britain are operated by a number of different companies with different conditions. This is two hundred year-old system and not all of it has been brought up to date because of the sheer expense involved. Not all stations are accessible, platform heights vary, there are different classes of train with different degrees of accessibility. Generally with a wheelchair one phones the different companies the day before and they will lay on help. However mobility scooters are a different matter because of the range of different types and sizes and they may not be accepted at all.
Which is why I need my scooter to be foldable, as generally there is then no objection to carrying them. You do need however to research your journey by looking at National Rail Enquiries, at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ Click on “Stations and On Train” to look up the facilities at the various stations you will be using. There are maps for each showing the location of ramps and lifts if they are provided, so you wont have to carry your scooter too far. For London Underground you can use the step-free access map http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/step-free-tube-guide-map.pdf
The biggest problem you’ll find is the interest it arouses when you set to work opening it up or folding it, and being held up chatting about it.