What is a Power Mobility Device?
Power Mobility devices are the electric mobility devices used by people with challenges with their legs. Some call persons using them “Electric Pedestrians”. The mobility could be impaired by age, illness or injury. It includes Electric Wheelchairs and 3-4 wheeled Electric Scooters of several speeds which are limited by design to not exceed 25kph. Most mobility devices use by people with a walking challenge are limited by design to 10kph and are considered Pedestrians in North America. In British Columbia, riding a “pedestrian class device” you are following direction taught by concerned parents walking kids to school and amplified by guidelines set out by ICBC.
What exactly are Pedestrian guidelines?
In most North American Communities there are no pedestrian “rules cut into stone”. Parents teach their children to walk against the traffic and stay out of the path of vehicles. Agencies of the National Government adopt guidelines based on the teachings of perhaps their parents and that’s promoted by provincial forces, reinforced by the collective teachings of their parents and life in general. Individual communities and regional districts can set and enforce unique bylaws concerning local pedestrian travel. Pedestrians and traffic have separate zones in all communities. In many communities, sidewalks are the pedestrian safe zones but in all communities there are areas where no sidewalks exist or are in disrepair, not accessible and can’t be used by everyone. When pedestrians, both footed and wheeled, share the road surface with vehicular traffic they do so facing the traffic. They cannot be on a provincial or national highway outside of the confines of a community. When traveling in a non-protected bike lane (common in all areas of a community, may not be marked), leave room between the oncoming traffic on your right and allow any oncoming bikes and faster than 10kph scooters (traveling with the traffic) to pass on your left, safely out of the traffic path. In the case of a range of parked cars, pass with them close on your left, as you feel confident with any passing traffic. If you see a bike approaching before you start, wait for them to pass. If you are passing the row of cars and see a bike approaching, duck between the next park car and the one ahead, wait then proceed once they pass if traffic oncoming. We can all share the road. Electric Pedestrians in the City of Victoria BC will have their own protected lane apparently, separated from the bikes and traffic. Lets all travel safe, someday this will be included in all community transportation designs!
Are there advantages to ownership? Disadvantages? Where do people get them from?
Parking: Free, everywhere, indoor and outdoor if needed
Fuel costs: None. It’s electric.
Security: As good as your personal security. Many models have an actual key and you can put tracking devices on the device and insurances to feel as safe as you need. Ideally you live in a residence where it can be parked inside in a heated secure location like your living room, plugged into the wall in complete safety as per your comfort level at home.
Insurance: Not required on Mobility devices up to the 30kph, 2, 3 and 4 wheeled recreational devices
Regulation, licencing: None on these devices
Special bonuses: You will never have to worry about a locating a parking spot or getting a speeding ticket while riding one.
Charge time; Varies, 4~6 hrs average time if battery extremely low. Many places (rental, leases, accessible workplaces, public plugs, diners coffee shops, hotel rooms home perhaps) can provide free electricity for an all day or multiple day rolling charge. Travel charge distance can be influenced by maintenance and environmental factors. The batteries are very expensive and can be ruined by draining them too low. Purchase a long term warranty if using the device for exclusive affordable local travel outside of where you happen to hang your hat.
Yes disadvantages exist. 99% of the time you have a painful disabling illness or injury or perhaps looking at your twilight years without a driver’s licence and thinking it’s an advantage. Well, that might not be considered a disadvantage, other than the fact you had to take a loss in life to enjoy it. Youth is wasted on the young is a collective thought. Your housing may be affected, you might not be able to host the instrument of your new found mobility and freedom safely within a sheltered secure warm location. A vehicle to transport it may be an expensive adaptation or upgrade when you want to go on vacation, even just to bring it to accessible intercity transportation venues like airports and train stations.
Where can a person get a mobility device?
Anyone with a Credit card can purchase one of these devices from a number of international suppliers like “1-800-Wheelchair“. This is unfortunate. For personal safety, these devices can be dangerous if not respected in use and maintained seasonally by professional service people. Some come with unexpected power and speeds. Maintenance is very expensive, as is the device itself. Local service and warranties are a very important part of ownership and safety.
Most persons affected by an injury, illness or age will have access to an Occupational Therapist. No mater what resources they have to fund the purchase of a device, an OT will provide the best creditable recommendations towards their patient’s safety and device tolerances. That should satisfy personal standards of safety too. More importantly to some, it should satisfy family, contacts and external funding source concerns. Locally in Northern BC, Medichair Northern BC and PG Surg Med will not issue a device without the recommendation of an Occupational Therapist or another qualified medial professional.
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