2 person electric scooter? Socially acceptable?
June 11, 2021 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever used a 2-person electric scooter like this one? I'm browsing electric scooters for my husband, and I saw this 2-seater which looks like heaven to me (he needs to be sitting and I don't have the strength to push a wheelchair. If I could be sitting as well that would be simply wonderful). But I thought, if we were tooting down a crowded boardwalk, paved wilderness park trail, or touristy shopping plaza type place, would people consider this inappropriate or give us a hard time about it?

I don't care that much about dirty looks, but I don't want to be harassed or confronted.
posted by bleep to Travel & Transportation (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (And it should go without saying that obviously we would drive with caution and not bother anyone)
posted by bleep at 9:48 AM on June 11, 2021

I wouldn’t say anything to you but I would consider it extremely rude and inconsiderate for you to essentially be navigating around a public space in your park bench. A one seater for someone who is mobility challenged I wouldn’t even glance at, I would be glad to share the sidewalk with them (and vice versa).

I should note, I wouldn’t say anything to you but if I was in a space where it was appropriate I would absolutely bring it up with staff/park rangers/etc. And ask them to ask you to use it elsewhere.

I think you should buy it but only deploy it when you are in areas without people around. Isolated bike path where electric scooters are allowed and you can navigate to the side to allow traffic to overtake you or pass in the other direction? Absolutely, that sounds great. Etc.
posted by arnicae at 9:53 AM on June 11, 2021 [8 favorites]

If I was walking down a boardwalk, and one of these was coming the other direction, I absolutely wouldn't think twice about it. A park trail? TONs of room on the ones flat enough where it'd work. Grocery Store? Usually enough space, unless you can't fit a cart past it, it shouldn't matter. You could always switch to the grocery store options too.

It doesn't look THAT much larger than any other mobility device. I doubt you'd be in many situations where it would matter.

So, I'd just ask yourself a few things:

1. Would it be weird if you weren't together and he was driving it by himself?
2. Should you really be walking for health reasons?
3. Can you fit it into your car?
posted by bbqturtle at 9:59 AM on June 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Using mobility assistance like an electric scooter isn’t “navigating a public space in your park bench” and I personally wouldn’t make any decisions about getting it based on the reactions of the kind of person who makes judgements like that. My only caveat here is that it’s probably not going to work well in crowded places, but actually probably only people who actually use mobility assistance like this should be answering this question, so I’ll bow out!!
posted by cakelite at 10:00 AM on June 11, 2021 [24 favorites]

My parent's mobility scooter has a 22" wide seat, and the specs for this are 33" seat--so it's not even twice as wide as a typical scooter. Me walking next to them in their scooter probably takes up more space. It shouldn't be too much harder to maneuver than a regular scooter, or more disruptive to walkers--and disrupting walkers isn't your problem! As someone using a mobility device, you have the right to take up space just as much as they do. Rude people will be rude, ableist people will be ableist, but this device isn't inappropriate.

If I thought this would support the weight of both of my parents, I'd be on my way to buy one now; it's hard for one person walking to keep up with someone in a scooter, especially if you have strength or mobility issues of your own. I would wonder how comfortable it will be for long-term sitting, though, so think ahead about the logistics parking and transferring one of both of you to seats if you stop for a period of time.
posted by assenav at 10:09 AM on June 11, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I've never seen one of these in public. But if I did I think my first thought would be "people having a joyride on the sidewalk" and not "people who need mobility assistance". I realize from your post I'd be wrong in that assumption but it just looks so much more like a toy than an assistance device. I'm very conflicted even saying this — there's no reason people with mobility restrictions should have to use a specific kind of medical-looking device. But you asked how people would react and I'm trying to be honest.

If you're worried about how people perceive you, you could mitigate that by dressing it up a bit. My first thought would be to put a couple of symbol of access stickers on it.

As a practical matter I'd look at how wide this thing is and whether it can navigate sidewalks, doors, etc as well as traditional mobility assistance devices. The trike base doesn't look as nimble as others designed for one person.

If this device would improve getting around with your husband I'd also just go straight to using it and not give a damn what people think.
posted by Nelson at 10:10 AM on June 11, 2021 [18 favorites]

Best answer: As note; this is 37" wide (seat width 33: but 37" for wheel width), it looks like a number of accessibility standards mandate a minimum door width of 32" - so some doors/walkways etc might not be wide enough. Further, turning / maneuvering etc will be harder with a 36" wide scooter than a a 26" wide scooter that it looks like most single person scooters are. Most doors are 36" wide. So the scooter will not fit through a majority of doors.

If you're thinking of buying this, *in addition* to a single person scooter, I don't think you'll have a problem; sometimes you'll need to walk while he uses the scooter, or you both get single person scooters. And for places that you know will be a bit more open, then bring the 2 person scooter.

If you're considering buying this *instead* of a single person scooter, I think this will give him/you difficulty and limit mobility from that of a single person scooter. Many grocery stores barely have enough room for 2 carts to get through; they're usually 24" wide or less. Which means that a grocery cart+this couldn't pass by each other in many aisles.
posted by nobeagle at 10:17 AM on June 11, 2021 [31 favorites]

It sounds like a great solution for you and your husband.

I honestly don't think people will react badly, although the first answer did surprise me so I might be wrong. I also think you have a right to use whatever mobility tools are useful, regardless of how others react. So I would try not and care if you can!
posted by mmmmmmm at 10:18 AM on June 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

I guess building on to Nelson's comment would be what are your appearances? If both you and your husband appear 60+, I see a lower chance of other people having issue with this. If both you and your husband appear to be 40 or younger you'll attract more people taking issue with this. I'm not saying that's right.
posted by nobeagle at 10:24 AM on June 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Just want to say I really appreciate all this honest discussion and it's very helpful - often with things like this it's the things we're not supposed to say because they shouldn't be true, but they are, so I appreciate the frankness. Based on nobeagle's answer seems like it would be more practical to get individual ones it seems like.
posted by bleep at 10:27 AM on June 11, 2021 [8 favorites]

As someone who works with people in this area, it’s the width and turning radius that matters for the best range of accessible navigation, especially when something is designed to minimum standards. Power wheelchairs often have a wider turning radius than the manual ones.
posted by childofTethys at 10:44 AM on June 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

If I saw people using this, I would probably first think it was obnoxious to be taking up so much space. Then I would remind myself that I really have no idea why you are using it and I should give you the benefit of the doubt.

Just to say that we sometimes have first reactions that are unkind, but part of a being a good human being is recognizing that our first reaction might be wrong, mean, ableist, privileged.

I agree that it helps if you look older, though it shouldn't. And you'd be more subject to vocal cruelty if you're overweight, which is incredibly shitty, and if you wanted to use it everywhere to spite people like that, I would quietly cheer you on.

Anyone who would report you for using it - well, that's the person who would end up featured in a social media outrage post on CNN.
posted by FencingGal at 10:50 AM on June 11, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Have you considered a tag along (if the primary one person scooter) would support it? like this It does look like there are several brands out there. Obviously passenger weight could be a concern but it’s an option to consider.
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 10:54 AM on June 11, 2021 [12 favorites]

Best answer: The tag-along looks great. The semi-double-wide (that has been declined) runs the risk of being so wide that it may make an accessible path impassable by someone in a power wheelchair coming the other way, or making someone use the boardwalk trolley lane to pass. My godteen can go for miles and only needs electricity to go farther, while those of us wearing our trail shoes will plop down on a bench and ask them to circle back & chat a while…the energy imbalance is real!
posted by childofTethys at 11:12 AM on June 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Maybe consider a front/back model instead of tandem (side-by-side) seating?
posted by kschang at 11:24 AM on June 11, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best answer: California law says "The operator of a motorized scooter shall not ... operate a motorized scooter with any passengers in addition to the operator." But ... looks like this does not fit the definition of a motorized scooter, it's more of a moped. Since the max speed is 10 MPH, it probably counts as a motorized bicycle for legal purposes, and it's not much wider than an single-person adult tricycle.

So there's the law to wave in someone's face, should you ever get the opportunity.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:33 AM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

It's 37" wide. I'm not sure all curb cuts will accommodate it, many grocery aisles will not, because of displays if nothing else. Sidewalks vary, most are wide enough, but there may be no room to get around pedestrians or wheelchairs.
posted by theora55 at 12:09 PM on June 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

OP never says they plan to use this to navigate grocery store aisles, they seem to be more thinking about places outdoors.
posted by cakelite at 12:13 PM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: No but I appreciate the info about size, it would be a huge waste of money to spend on something that can't go everywhere we want to go.
posted by bleep at 12:19 PM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: That does seem like it would be fun, being able to ride side-by-side. It looks more like a fun scooter than like a mobility scooter, though, which is a problem for me (Nelson's idea of access stickers is a good one). And it looks impossible to fit into or lift in and out of a car! How will you get it to the trail you want to ride on? I use a Pride GoGo mobility scooter that disassembles into pieces small enough for me to lift in and out of the car.

I always carry my cane while I'm riding my scooter, partly because I hate taking the scooter into restrooms, and partly because I feel like it looks really bad to hop off the scooter and walk without apparent difficulty. I have an invisible disability which means I can walk short distances okay but can't manage longer distances, and the cane has turned out to be a useful signal to others, besides the help it gives me to lean on it.
posted by metonym at 12:39 PM on June 11, 2021 [6 favorites]

Yeah, while I think this would have been so cool for someone like my dad when I was recovering from surgery and couldn't push him, I'm thinking of the scooter he did finally get and thinking it might end up being more of a challenge. Many of the door widths even in his very well adapted retirement center wouldn't allow this through, or it wouldn't have been able to navigate through the hallway turns in many parts of his complex.

It'd be a bear to get into a mobile transportation vehicle as well--I'm thinking of the lifts we used to get my very large dad and his extra large scooter up into the vans that took him to doctor appointments, and that they wouldn't have been able to accommodate this. So if you would be buying only this one as opposed to this one plus a regular scooter, that could be an issue if he has to stay in the chair all the time eventually.

As someone above mentioned, curb cuts aren't always wide enough--in my own neighborhood, many of the sidewalks have plantings that narrow things considerably when they get overgrown, or the cuts are super old concrete ones that are really narrow and tiny.

I would have loved this at times, though, so I can see why you're interested in it.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 1:00 PM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If a stand-up ride works for you, here's the Care-E, a platform attachment that folds up when not in use.
posted by dum spiro spero at 2:01 PM on June 11, 2021 [7 favorites]

Just saying that I DID see one of these last weekend, at a very crowded car parts flea market/car show. There were lots of men in scooters, and I wasn't paying much attention because of the sheer numbers (and admittedly they got annoying after a while; they seemed to expect everyone else to get out of their way). I glanced at the two seater and my only reaction was "Oh neat, it's a two seater." To me, it's a mild annoyance (akin to people with the side by side strollers) but hey, if it works for you both, then that's all that matters.
posted by annieb at 3:24 PM on June 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Okay, after doing a bit of research, that OP linked was considered "motorized quadricycle / motorized tricycle / electric wheelchair" and NO license is required, as defined in California Vehicle Code section 407. One of the up to 2 persons onboard must be physically disabled as defined in section 13000 of the vehicle code.

This is limited to max of 2 pax (including driver) and max of 2 HP, and max speed of 30 MPH. Mobility scooters are generally not allowed on public roads. They *should* drive on sidewalks as if they are pedestrians, and limit their speed accordingly.

This has NOTHING to do with motorized bicycle, moped, e-scooter, or motorcycle of any form.

Keep in mind that some counties or cities may have different laws regarding these devices, and this should NOT be taken as legal advice. :)
posted by kschang at 1:56 AM on June 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

My understanding is this would legally be covered under the ADA as an OPDMD.

In recent years, some people with mobility disabilities have begun using less traditional mobility devices such as golf cars or Segways®. These devices are called "other power-driven mobility device" (OPDMD) in the rule. OPDMD is defined in the new rules as "any mobility device powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines… that is used by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion, including golf cars, electronic personal assistance mobility devices… such as the Segway® PT, or any mobility device designed to operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes, but that is not a wheelchair". When an OPDMD is being used by a person with a mobility disability, different rules apply under the ADA than when it is being used by a person without a disability.

Socially, I think signaling disability is a useful way to go. A cane, a sign. You could call ahead to venues to help their staff be ready to answer questions or reports brought to them by other patrons. Ultimately, I hope you're able to use the device that makes the most sense to you, and look and act as happy as you feel in it without people challenging your right to mobility.
posted by rockyraccoon at 7:22 PM on June 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

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