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A scooter coming along

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THE Local Government Association is seeking a statewide review of mobility scooters amid claims they are crowding footpaths and endangering pedestrians.

The association wants the Iemma Government to overhaul the rules governing use of the motorised devices, which a spokeswoman said are "increasingly an issue in coastal areas and some rural areas, where people are moving to retire".

A beacon for NSW retirees is Ballina, which is wrestling with the problem. Mayor Phillip Silver says there "are probably more [mobility] scooters here per head of population than anywhere else in the country".

The Ballina Chamber of Commerce has appealed to Ballina Shire Council to take into account the growing use of the scooters when redrawing a management plan for the city's footpaths.

Chamber manager Nadia Eliott-Burgess said that, while businesses welcomed the custom of older shoppers, special usage rules or road and footpath conditions might be needed.

"If you walk up River Street you will probably see half a dozen of them," Ms Eliott-Burgess said.

"You'll see a dozen on a busy day. If I'm coming out of a shop and there's a scooter coming along, should I be stopping or should the scooter be stopping?"

She knew of scooters overturning on some sections of footpath.

John Payne, general manager for NSW of leading scooter manufacturer Invacare, said the market was "growing substantially". The machines retailed from between $2500 and $10,000 and were popular among the elderly, who had decreased mobility but wished to live an independent lifestyle, he said.

Tom Pavlovich, who runs Scooters & Mobility in Ballina, said sales had surged in the two years he had been in business.

Mr Pavlovich said he gave buyers instructions on how to avoid trouble on the devices, which the Roads and Traffic Authority rules stipulate might not be driven over 10 kmh and must weigh less than 110 kilograms. He said he was not aware of any serious pedestrian collisions involving the scooters, although one purchaser had crashed into a garage door.

Ballina retiree Vince O'Shea, 79, uses his scooter to get to the shops and visit friends. "[Scooters] give you a certain amount of independence," he said. "I usually give way to anybody that's coming towards me."

Mr Silver - who is wheelchair bound - said he was unsure whether Ballina Shire Council had the power to develop protocols for the scooters or whether it would be necessary to involve the RTA. He was hopeful a solution could be reached to the satisfaction of business owners and scooter users.

NSW StaySafe Committee chairman Geoff Corrigan said the usage of scooters had been raised by his committee members. He said no decision had been taken about whether to activate a review.

A scooter for Rudy

A few days ago, Rudy Giuliani earned some good-natured jeers when, during an appearance at Segway Inc. — maker of the two-wheeled “Personal Transporter” — he declined to ride one of the devices.

He must have heard the jibes. Giuliani rode into his first event of the morning Saturday on board a two-wheeled, motorized scooter. It was hard to see if it actually was a Segway.

“I could of done twice as much campaigning if I had that thinng,” Giuliani said in his remarks to the FIRST Robotic Competition Kickoff in Manchester.

“I’ll try it on Fifth Avenue,” Giuliani said, getting laughs from the tech-oriented crowd.

But the laughs stopped, however, when Giuliani told the New England audience that he would welcome the winners of the robotic competition to the White House as if they were the New York Yankees. That remark got him some boos.


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