Tuesday, December 4, 2018

I Can't Believe How Stupid I Am

I couldn't believe it when I woke up to a beautiful day this morning after all the wet, windy, or freezing cold days, or a mixture of all three, we have had for several weeks.  Not only was it bright sunshine but also almost with a warm sun.  So I wanted to get the scooter out just for a quickie, mainly so that the scooter doesn't feel I have abandoned it but also to give the battery a little boost.

After getting on it and making myself comfortable, turning it on, and attempted to reverse out of my parking position I discovered that the buggy could barely move.  It was struggling to move even a couple of inches.

My heart sinking, thinking it was buggered, I suddenly thought that it must be on tortoise mode because I always park in tortoise mode just in case I brake too slowly and hit the back of the scooter cover.  Not that that should have made it not actually move.  But anyway I turned the nob up from tortoise to hare, and tried again.

This time she did start reversing but seemed to be going at tortoise speed only.

Now I'm thinking that maybe when Charlie fixed the ignition he accidentally jarred something out of place in the workings of the nob for tortoise and hare.

Disappointment flooding me, I'm thinking I will have to now get in touch with Charlie and wait for him to have some spare time to take a look at it.

But knowing that I needed to test it thoroughly before contacting Charlie I drove out of parking and set off aiming to go just around the block to test just how fast she was able to go.  Top speed seemed to only reach 4mph.  Bugger, bugger, I thought.

Then it suddenly hit me.  "I bet I have the slow - fast switch on".  The slow/fast switch is located under the dashboard and it's not something I have been bothering with because I prefer to use the slow/fast nob on the top of the dash.

I checked the switch and yep, it was on slow.  Stupid, stupid me.  I must have used that switch on slow mode to park the buggy up when I last used it.  It seems that if one has both switches on it changes it from the choice of 4mph - 6mph to between 2mph - 4mph as top speed.

 From now on I'm never touching that bloody switch again.

I"m very relieved all is good again.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Confusion Over Registering Scooter

Well, I did the legal thing and sent off to register my scooter with the DVLA as mentioned on 19th October post.  Today I received a letter back from them.

Within the envelope were two letters each one from a different department.

One department had sent my original, filled in, application for registration form back to me asking me to fill in the box marked with the red asterisk.  The box marked with the asterisk was asking for the chassis number of the scooter, which the mobility scooter doesn't have, and then to send the form back to them in order for them to be able to give me a registration number.

The second letter was thanking me for my registration form and to please find my registration number enclosed.

So now I'm wondering if my scooter is actually registered legally or will it only be registered when returning the form to them with a non existent  chassis number.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A 5 Mile Run Out

After the few short test rides I have made to test if the batteries maybe old or new and having no problems, my friend, Margaret, and I made a 5 mile round trip today with our scooters down to our nearest Sainsburys super store.

The charge in the batteries was hardly made a dent of but unfortunately I was unable to time how long the journey out to reach Sainsburys took us because Margaret seemed terrified of going at a decent speed for her scooter.

Being as how Margaret is new to the area, and not knowing how to get to Sainsburys, I lead the way.  Which I thought also wasn't a bad idea as I have the slowest scooter at 6mph and Margaret's is 8mph.  However, it wasn't long before I realised that Margaret was continually dropping behind and I was spending a great deal of time waiting for her to catch up.

I estimated that the journey out should have been at the very maximum of 25 minutes.  However it actually took us just under the hour.  It was so very frustrating for me, and once we had arrived I wasn't looking forward to the long journey home again, which did in fact take us a full hour.

On the way back though, thinking it might be nervousness on Margaret's part, I did bring us back a different way through much quieter roads, which is a slightly longer route anyway.  This quiet way made not an iota of difference to the speed that Margaret travelled.

A couple of minutes from home and having just waited for her to catch me up again, I turned around and outright asked her why she rides so slowly when she has the ability to go at 8mph.  Turns out, that she had no idea how to use the scooter or the law on how fast she was allowed to travel.  For some reason she had been told that she is only allowed to go 7 or 8 mph when over taking.  After our chat she did then ride the short distance we had left to get home at a much more reasonable speed.

We did both thoroughly enjoy our first run out together though and will certainly do it again soon before the weather gets too wet or maybe even snowy.

I did have one problem though when coming back out of the shop and put the key in the ignition.  The ignition unit had become very loose and when trying to turn the key the whole thing turned which meant I couldn't turn the ignition on.  After several attempts at trying I held tight to the fixture which allowed the key to turn, so at least I was able to get home ok.

I have a friend coming along, probably Friday, to fix it for me.  But the good news has been that it does look like the batteries have either been well looked after or are new ones.

On my next run out I want to risk a 9 mile round trip which will be to visit my Sister.  One to test the battery and two, to time how much longer it will take me than it does to go by trike.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Testing the Hills

One thing I have been a bit worried about, is being as how my scooter is only a medium sized 6mph scooter, is getting up hills with less power than a larger scooter has.  Plus of course I am still not sure of how new or old the batteries are.

So today my friend Margaret and I decided to test it out on the short but very steep hill we have coming from the beach up and onto the road.  The hill there is probably the steepest hill I would come across in what will be my personal area of travelling.

Margaret also rides a scooter, and with her 8mph one is up and down that hill several times a day when taking her dog for a walk.   It was quite amusing with both of us riding in tandem on our short outing together.  Several people that we passed remarked on it, joking with such as "are you having a race", etc.

It was very cold out even though the sun was shining so we just made a couple of tests up and down but it was enough to tell me that I had absolutely no cause to worry.  My little buggy made the hill easily with no sign of struggling at all.  I can now be assured that the very long hill I have to ride up on coming home after visiting my Sister and her family will be no problem.

One thing my buggy isn't keen on though is riding across the shingle along the beach front path that is washed up with the wind and rain off of the beach.  So any rough terrain is out of the question.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

On Riding a Mobility Scooter

There are three ways one can legally ride a class three mobility scooter.  On the pavement, on a cycle path, and on the road.

None of these are ideal or easy to use.

By law when riding on a pavement one has to turn on the tortoise switch to guarantee that you only travel at 4mph.  This of course is a must and very understandable when riding where pedestrians are.  However, of course if there are no cycle paths in an area and the road is a busy dangerous one, even with no pedestrians around it's still 4mph on the pavement and one gets nowhere fast.

On a cycle path you are however allowed to go at the maximum speed your scooter can go which is between 6 and 8 mph, depending on the scooter.

Unfortunately in my home area, all cycle paths are also shared with pedestrians.  They are in fact simply pavements where the council deems is far enough away from a pedestrian area to ride faster.  These pavements are in an absolutely appalling state of repair.  It's impossible to actually travel at the maximum speed of your scooter, and you have to slow down to a walking speed if you are to feel safe and not be bounced violently around.  You also have the added problem of having to continually stop at side roads to let vehicles pass.

On the road motorists seem to object even more violently and aggressively to mobility scooters than they do cyclists.  Abuse shouted out from motorists to get off the road is common place my fellow scooter owners tell me, and although I personally in my short riding's out haven't had any nastiness as yet from a motorist, one does definitely feel unwanted and uncomfortable at taking up road space which I certainly never felt when riding my trike.

I am beginning now to get cross at the attitude towards scooter owners from both motorists and the councils.

Only today I read a newspaper article discussing whether scooters should be allowed on pavements at all, baring in mind that 50% of scooter owners actually do not have any use of their legs.  The article was also complaining that only those with great immobility, (cripples) should be allowed to have one, and others that can actually walk, even a short distance shouldn't be allowed and should be forced to use public transport.  Others are demanding tests and road tax be paid.  Yes, that bloody non-existent road tax crops up yet again.

There are several things that desperately need changing.

1)  Motorists need educating via the highway code on how our roads are actually paid for and how everyone has a right to use them. 
2)  Councils should be forced to put money into the up keep of pavements and shared cycle paths.
3)  The law should be changed on Class 3 road worthy scooters only having the maximum speed when on the road of 8mph.

8mph is lower than all lawful speed limits in any other country.  Electric cycles in the UK have a maximum throttle only speed of 15 mph.  I see absolutely no reason why scooters are kept down to 8pmh.  It's a ridiculously dangerously low speed for our roads.  There is no reason on earth that this couldn't be raised to at least 12 mph which is more or less a cruising speed for a plodding cyclist.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Costs So Far

So far the only money the scooter has cost me is £47:44 on bits for it.  But the good news is that those bits will also serve any new scooter I buy in the future.  So the money isn't wasted.

Free: Scooter
£19:99 Wrist Rear View Mirror
£ 8:50 Control Panel/Tiller Cover
£18:95 Waterproof Scooter Cape

Total: £47:44

Louie and I had another ride out on the scooter.   I tried to get him to sit on the foot plate instead of on my lap, but it worried him being down there, so back up he came.   I really must sort something out so that he can sit beside me.  When he is on my lap his paws are digging hard into my legs, and that's not at all comfortable.

I think temporarily I might start taking a cushion with me to put on my lap so that he feels more secure and also his paws stop digging in me.

It's only got a tiddly little basket in front at the moment so he can't travel in that, and although there is an extra add on one can buy to put a large basket on the back I never did like him travelling behind me in that on the trike.  Charlie reckons we could figure out something that could allow him to be beside me.  A sort of sidecar if you like, by way of a basket.  I will figure out something eventually I'm sure.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Testing the Battery

Gorgeous day today.  I had to wait in for a delivery of a table/desk today, and as soon as that arrived I intended for Louie and I to take a ride out on the scooter. 

I'm also expecting a few bits to arrive for the scooter too.  A rear view mirror (to make it road legal) and a couple of bits for rainy days.  The rain cover I ordered for it came today.  Rain cover as in it covers both myself and scooter for going out in heavy rain and the cover for just the just the handle bars to protect the electrics in a shower also arrived.

I sent off the tax registration form, but the form is so complicated to fill in just for mobility scooters that it could be sent back to me as incomplete.

It's the same form that one fills in for cars, passenger, and all other vehicles.  One has to go through everything filling in only what applied to ones own vehicle leaving everything else blank.  I have no bloody idea what applied to just M. scooters.

Margaret along the corridor has never registered hers.  She had no idea you had to.  So her and I discuss what we each thought had to be filled in and she sent one off too.  You would think that for mobility scooters that simply go no faster than 8mph they would have by now produced a separate form for.  When you think how old a lot of people are that are filling them in.  I'm sure most of them have to get help with it.  When you buy a brand new one, the shop fills the first one in for you, but if your first is 2nd hand then you have no bloody idea what details they want and what they don't.

Still, if they send it back demanding more details, I will know next time what's needed.  You still have to apply for tax every year the same as for cars etc.  In the meantime, it's really only legal for pavements at 4mph. 

Louie and I had our little ride out on the scooter late morning.  We went a little further today.  I'm still testing the distance those batteries will take me before attempting the trip to my Sister's or into Christchurch.   Both are more or less the same distance away from me.  New Milton is a little nearer, so I might do that first before Burton or Christchurch.  I do not want to get stuck miles from home and find the battery dead.

I then spent a couple of hours outside, washing, disinfecting, and oiling moving parts of the scooter, along with chatting to several of the neighbours that stopped to check out my new, "FREE" transport.  At one point there were 3 scooters and 5 neighbours outside with me.   The chap from upstairs went over and brought his really large one over from the scooter sheds and I had a go on it.  My word it's got some welly.  It did cost him £4500 though so one would expect it to have some welly.  I have just got to save up for one as good as that.

My scooter came up really lovely with all the spit and polish I gave it and one would never guess it was so old.

Louie and I did another run out on it in the afternoon, this time along the cliff tops.  I also tested him running along side it.  He really loves it.  I must sort out a better way for him to travel on it though rather than him sitting on my lap.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Louie's First Ride

We have had tremendously high winds this last few days and therefore I have stayed in doors and ignored the scooter and instead continued with my sorting, minimising, and organising my flat of which I managed to get a lot done.

In the afternoon the wind dropped and the sun came out for a short while so I ended up taking Louie out on the scooter for a quick ride around to see how he was on it.

I had him sitting on my lap but he was attached to me in the way an over the shoulder bag would be.  I had a detachable strap in my wardrobe from one of my bags that I never use on it, preferring to use the bag just as a hand bag.  So instead of having it attached to each end of a handbag, it's now attached to each side of Louie's harness.  So I am sort of wearing him like a handbag, lol.  He is perfectly safe, and can move from my lap to sit beside me with no fear of him jumping or falling off.  Not a perfect solution but will do until I can get something else sorted.

He seemed to really enjoy it, but then he is used to riding on the trike.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

I Now Have a Mobility Scooter

Oh My Goodness!  I now have a mobility scooter.  Totally free.

Charlie brought it over for me today.  It's a very old Explorer 6 and only does 6mph but has cleaned up a treat.  Charlie checked it all out for me, blew off the cobwebs and cleaned it up.  We aren't however, yet sure of how new, or old, the batteries are.  So for the time being I am not going to go a distance on it until I'm certain the batteries are good enough to get me there and back again.  The basket on the front is a bit crap and discoloured but as it's so small I would be changing it anyway.

I've just got back from a 10 minute ride around on it.  Checked that it did do the speed it was built for by using a speedometer app on my phone, and practiced at riding it without causing it, or me, any damage. 

I'm so pleased with it.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

One Step Closer to Getting a Mobility Scooter

I think whoever invented the mobility scooter deserves a medal.  When you think of how many people young and old that it's freed up from being constantly having to rely on others to get around, to being able to do so much again for oneself.

Maybe I"m not desperately disabled to the extent that I need one for short distance walking as many people do, but really more need it for personal transport to go further than walking can take me. 

Charlie came in for tea yesterday and he had my scooter in his van.  He had picked it up from the societies store room and was taking it home to check it out, polish it up etc.  He tells me and it's in better condition that he first thought.  I went out to have a look see.  It's an old one, a gorgeous blue metallic, but in good nick.  I'm sure he will do a wonderful job on it.  I'm so hoping it will turn out good enough to last me a good while.  The longer it lasts me the more time I will have to save up for a top of the range one.

I'm now very much looking forward to having a play on it.  He has told me I mustn't worry about breaking down or running out of battery as he will be my road side and recovery service, lol.

I rang the office today to try to get a space in one of the cycle sheds for my trike as at the moment it is in one of the electric scooter sheds. As the scooter will need to be in the electric sheds, and as we are only allowed one space I need to find alternative storage for the trike.  Unfortunately there are no spaces in the bike sheds at present,  but was told that they are sorting out a new way of storing cycles as so many people want them now and can I get back to them in about a month.  In the meantime I'm going to have to put my trike under my window with a cover over it.   Bummer!  But will probably be selling it anyway if the scooter works out.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Unbelievable Luck

I can't believe my fortune.

Living on an over 60s retirement complex as I do, we have several maintenance men working permanently around the site.  One in particular, Charlie, has become what can now be classed a friend being as he pops in a couple of times a week for a cup of tea and a chat.

As one of the maintenance crew he has on rare occasions been asked by either one of the residents or by their family to get rid of their old mobility scooters.  Either because they have died, or upgraded or moved into a care home, etc.

Now the good news is, Charlie has an old scooter for me "FREE" - When people die here or go into nursing homes, if the family don't want the old scooters and ask the office to get rid of them for them, Charlie takes them and stores them in companies storage until they can be got rid of.  It doesn't happen often that there is one in there but it seems like fate that there just happens to be one sitting in there now, along with the fact it's also a road worthy one.

Now that he gets back from his holiday, which he is having next week, he is going to take it to his home, check it out, service it, see if it needs new batteries or such and then if all is ok it will be mine.  If I get on with it and like using it, I will start saving for a newer one, along with selling my trike.

It wont be as fast as cycling and will add a few (5 or 10 mins) onto the longer journeys I do, but as I'm never in a hurry to get anywhere that shouldn't be a problem.

I've now jumped from being rather reticent to give up my trike, and sad to not being able to comfortably use it anymore, to being quite keen on giving a mobility scooter a try out.  As the scooter will be free, I have absolutely nothing to lose by having a play on it.

Monday, October 1, 2018

From Tricycle to Mobility Scooter

From Tricycle to Mobility Scooter, that is the question.

10 Years ago on becoming 60 years old I decided that I would treat myself to a tricycle to use as my only means of personal transport.

You might ask why a tricycle and not a bicycle.  I had never in all my life ever learnt to ride a two wheeler.  I could manage to stay upright on one if I really had to, but my lack of confidence to not only tackle balancing one safely but also balancing in one in today's busy and fast traffic. 

I chose to buy an electric tricycle at that time for two reasons.  One, it was on sale for half price, and two, I was living in a town that was all hills.  In fact it was seeing that tricycle in the bicycle shop window day after day, when passing by, that put into my head that I really, really wanted a tricycle.

I loved having a trike as an only means of transport.  The only cost was a yearly service which cost pennies, and I was keeping fit at the same time.  There was a large basket on the back for my little dog or for shopping, and I was able to get from A to B without buses or walking, as I had done all my life due to never wanting to learn to drive.

After two or three years, and having moved to not only a new town but a new county, I swapped that electric trike in for a brand new manual trike.  My new area was fairly flat and the occasional hill wasn't nearly as steep as where I previously lived.

Very easy to manage until one day as I was rushing fast towards 70, I started to find a couple of hills in my immediate area particularly hard going along with my arthritis in my hip and feet getting worse.   Luckily it was time for me to fancy buying myself yet another new model of trike.

So 3 years ago my third and last trike was once again electric.  Unfortunately less than a year after buying her I fell ill.  I spent the following 2 years in and out of hospital and when not in hospital I was mostly bed ridden or at least house bound.

On making a full recovery, or as much as I will ever recover now, I dusted off my trusty tricycle that now still looks brand new, having hardly been used and left all alone in my Daughter's garage for all of those months.   I then set about making a couple of short journeys to slowly build my strength and stamina up.

It didn't take many outings to make me realise that due to all of the surgeries I had been through during that 2 years that my insides were never going to be comfortable sitting on a saddle again.  Not only that but being so uncomfortable riding again I had lost all of my confidence to be a safe rider.

However at that point I was still determined that I wasn't going to stop riding because it was after all my only means of personal transport and giving me an independence from continually calling on my Daughter and Granddaughters to act as my taxi, as they had been this last couple of years by ferrying me to and fro hospital, doctors, dentist and all other appointments I have had to get to.

It was mentioning my recent experience and problems of getting on the trike again to a friend that he suggested I swap my trike for a mobility scooter.

My first thoughts on this was,  a mobility scooter is limited to a maximum of 8mph, along with one not actually allowing me to have any exercise as I was travelling.  However, after some thought, and a discussion with one of my Granddaughters I am coming to the conclusion that I wouldn't be giving up much at this stage in my life by swapping from trike to scooter.

I had noticed on my new travels out on my trike I was barely using the pedals and instead relying mostly on the throttle, along with riding at a much lower speed than I used to anyway, due to the discomfort I was experiencing with my innards from my surgeries.  On testing my speed on the trike by using an app on my iPhone, I discovered that I wasn't actually cycling much faster on average than 8 - 9 mph anyway.

As I am now going to reach my 70th birthday next month I can see myself starting to use the throttle more and more and using the pedals less and less.  So now I'm thinking, do I want to force myself to ride an uncomfortable ride simply to ride a trike rather than ride a mobility scooter.

After researching on line the prices of 2nd hand mobility scooters, I am now working out if I could afford to go from trike to scooter by checking my bank account, and figuring out how much I could sell my trike for to see if I could get together enough money to make the swap if I decided to do so.