Possible alternatives for Motability…

This is another item from the search engines.

Motability electric bicycles.

No such thing, I’m afraid, though I’ve always thought that just offering cars, powerchairs and electric mobility scooters a tad short-sighted. Why not motor-scooters and electric bikes, especialy as the latter are much improved, and lighter, with the introduction of lithium-ion batteries? The qualification for the higher rate of DLA is that your walking ability must be impaired – I don’t see that would prevent someone riding a scooter or electric bike, providing they were sufficiently fit and their balance was good (obviously a powerchair user would be excluded), and there are huge cost benefits compared to cars, powerchairs or mobility scooters.

A car worth having would probably retail at around £10,000 – a 250cc automatic scooter is less than half that – a lot less – and smaller scooters down to 50cc are available for little money. True, the buyer would have to budget for riding gear, but that needn’t break the bank, and will compare very favourably with the advance payments required for many cars. My choice would be something like the Yamaha x-Max 250 or the x-Max 125 – Honda and Suzuki offer similar machines.

An automatic scooter requires that the user be fit enough to ride it safely, and all the controls are hand controls, though you must be able to get a foot down when stationary, though you don’t have to take the weight of the machine if you keep it balanced, but you might have to at times, so some strength will be needed – the smaller the scooter, though, the less strength required, and unless you’re putting in longish distances, one around 125cc will have enough power to keep you safe (in my view, a 50cc scooter which is barely capable of around 30mph is something of a hazard – you need to be able to keep your place in the traffic flow, not be a mobile roadblock).

From the leasing perspective, I see no difficulties – servicing a scooter is no more difficult than servicing a car, and insurance may actually be lower, depending on the machine.

For me, though, the perfect Motability solution for those who have a reasonable degree of mobility, and don’t fancy a mobility scooter is the electric bike, which I’ve covered in depth here.

They’re easy to ride, can go where petrol-powered machines can’t (i.e.  anywhere a pushbike can go), are very light compared to motor-scooters, and can easily be kept indoors. Insurance, while desirable, isn’t essential, and there’s no involvement with the DVLA.

The big bonus, though, is the speed. The fastest mobility scooter will do up to 8mph, a bike up to 15mph. A bike is less comfortable, but will get your there a hell of a lot faster, and will take you further, especially if you carry a spare battery pack – something that’s impossible with a scooter

Prices range from about £600 for something worth having (plus a couple of hundred for a spare battery), to a few thousand. And you can have a trike, too, if your balance it poor, though they’re more expensive, but even the most expensive electric bike or trike costs less than a mobility scooter, can be stored pretty much anywhere (and if you fit folding pedals you won’t bark your shins if you keep it indoors). Maintenance is the same as for any bike, minimal (the electronics and motor are sealed). Lease-wise, then, the cost would be buttons, even for the most expensive electric trike with all the extras. That is, it should be buttons, but an electric mobility scooter on a 3-year lease costs only £40 or so less a month than a car (depending on model, of course.

I’ve also felt, for a long time, that a package of a small automatic car, a Vauxhall Corsa, maybe (omit aircon, but electric windows are a must), plus a basic electric wheelchair (with maybe a 10-mile range), and ramps, would be worth offering. It could, in fact, become the default Motability package, thus benefiting from economies of scale, with other cars continuing to be offered as options.

Why? Because a great many of Motability’s customers have no other income than state benefits (I think they sometimes lose sight of this), and many of them have to make the choice between a car and a powerchair, when what they ideally need is both. And yes, OK, that includes me!

I think these things are doable on Motability – I’m equally sure they won’t be.

3 thoughts on “Possible alternatives for Motability…

  1. I have a paralised right leg following a L1 fracture. I use an electric bike. It’s great the only thing I have to do is to strap my right foot onto the pedal with a toe clip. My bike cost me about £1,500:00 but it is a full size Dahon folding Bike with a Heinzmanns Conversion kit from the Electric Transport Shop, Hope Street Yard, Hope Street Cambridge CB1 3NA. 01223 247410. Not only is this quicker than a mobility scooter it is much cooler!

    • Yep, I’m looking at getting an electric bike shortly – possibly the eZee Sprint http://www.cyclepoint.net/cyclepoint/?q=node/5 Gotta be a step-through (arthritic hips), and I’ll be changing those horrible bars. The Powacycle Windsor is looking attractive, too, not least because I can get a bike and several spare batteries for a grand, it’s rear-wheel drive, too (as an ex-biker, steering with the driven wheel appals me, especially with skinny tyres). OK, it’s not cutting-edge but, given the use it’s likely to get, probably more cost-effective. Have to change the bars, and stem, on that, too.

      Not only is this quicker than a mobility scooter it is much cooler!

      Ah, but unlike my powerchair, I can’t ride it round Sainsbury’s – horses for courses. . .

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