Part 2 of 3


I sometimes rent a large, heavy scooter when we travel, particularly at a venue like Yosemite, where the trails, even if paved, can be either rough, uneven, gravelly or have soft dirt. These scooters usually have four wheels so are quite stable, and like the Go-Go, they automatically stop and brake on an incline when you take your hand off the accelerator. The accelerators are of two types: you push a plastic tab with your thumb, or pull it with your fingers while your hand rests on handlebar grips. Since I have arthritis in my thumbs, the push tab type is very tiring and even painful for me, whereas the pull-tab type is comfortable. When it comes to buying, the accelerator can usually be adapted to the type that works for you. They are all fairly similar: Pride, Scout, Phoenix, Drive, Golden and other lesser-known brands. They range in price from about $1,300 to $3,000 new, depending on three- or four-wheel and other options.

There’s a small collapsible electric scooter which simply folds down flat and does not come apart, but it weighs 75 pounds, so I knew that one wouldn’t work for me unless I had a constant companion. (Sorry, was not able to find it online to give you the name; I saw it at a mobility supply store.) There are a few others such as Go Luggie, Mobile Plus and Glion’s SnapNGo which weigh about 50+ pounds, though the SnapNGo weighs only 31 pounds when the battery’s removed. I haven’t used these particular scooters.

Most scooters can be purchased online or at a mobility supply store; sometimes you can find used ones—but in that case there will be no guarantee of its condition. I looked at one once that was described as “in good condition” and it was pretty tattered, with a cigarette burn on the seat and questionable operating function as well. The seat would not adjust forward and it was made for a larger person. The seller wanted about $1,000 for it and for that price I preferred a new one. It might have been fine for occasional use if the price were lower and I were bigger. There are also medical equipment recycling centers in some cities which give equipment away for free. Do ask a lot of questions and try them out, whether new or used; for instance, try going from a driveway to the street and back to make sure you understand how it tracks. Some of them have no trouble going up a steep incline and some are made for less motor strain. I recommend renting one, such as at a resort or from a medical equipment rental agency, before you start looking for one to buy.

Health insurance sometimes pays for a scooter’s accessories (Medicare doesn’t), but not the scooter itself, unless it’s needed to get from room to room in one’s home.

These scooters which do not come apart or collapse all require a van for transporting. Whether you use one in your town or rent one while away, you can’t take them anywhere without a van and either a lift or ramp to get them into the van. They take up about 28 cubic feet (around 4 feet long x 2 feet wide x 3 ½ feet tall), which is about two person-seats worth of space. One polio survivor I know has a rigged-up hydraulic lift with a rope that pulls her scooter into the back of her small SUV, but she still has to have a hatchback that opens up wide and a tall ceiling in the car to accommodate this.

You can take these on an airline, but they have to be taken down an elevator to the hold by airline baggage personnel; they cannot be taken into the passenger cabin.

They also are a bit bulky in some venues such as concert halls; most places would require the user to get up from the scooter and walk at least a short distance to a seat. Even some restaurants have required me to stow my much smaller scooter in a closet or other room out of sight. It surprises me that posh venues still consider necessary mobility devices unsightly. (I have also been seated in restaurants many times at tables that have no place to put my crutches; sometimes I ask to be seated near a wall or corner, but not wedged into one!) Many concert and theater venues now have a space open in the back or to the side for a manual wheelchair or a power chair, but not always for a scooter, which would not be as comfortable over several hours. (I have been to some older venues that have no elevators although they have a second or third tier of seats. In these places, you have to reserve a downstairs ADA seat well in advance or skip the show unless you can climb stairs, and even then, navigating steep narrow rows of seats can be quite challenging.)

To be continued!