Exploring Bracknell on four wheels
Published: 6 Oct 2013 09:301 comment
Warmly greeted by the friendly staff at Bracknell Shopmobility, I was immediately placed on one of their scooters and drove to the lift in Princess Square - heading up for some training on the third floor.
The charity had teamed up with Bracknell Forest Council to set up an event aimed at encouraging scooter drivers to be safe - and 21 people took the opportunity.
In the knowledge that pushing the right side of the handle would drive me forward and the left would put me in reverse, I began my journey round a makeshift track in the car park.
This went according to plan - though my first attempt at reversing round a corner was not Schumacher-esque in terms of driving skill - and I was as ready as I ever would be to hit the streets.
Final advice came from the Shopmobility girls and the Council’s road safety officers - remember to watch out for people coming out of shops.
I made my way out of Princess Square at about three miles per hour - Shopmobility scooters are limited to a four mph top speed - and began my journey.
I was quickly surprised that as slowly as I felt I was going, I was actually a fair way ahead of our photographer. It is true people - or aging photographers at least - only walk between two and three mph.
Having navigated my way through a relatively busy Charles Square - with a few disbelieving looks that a six foot two inch chap in a suit was on a mobility scooter - I turned onto the High Street.
A quick voyage outside the Market was followed by a trip out towards Broadway and Crossway, and as my confidence began to climb, I made my was back to Charles Square.
The most striking thing about being on the scooter was the number of people who do not realise you are there, presumably because you are well below an average person’s eyeline.
This was most noticeable when I was nearly walked into by a middle-aged woman texting, only for her to realise at the last minute she was about to cause a collision.
Having returned to the shop, I asked some of the other scooter users how they find it with other members of the public - one confirmed my fear that “they don’t think we exist.”
From my experience that may sadly be true - so next time you’re out in town - remember not everyone moving around is stood bolt upright.
Shop: Ground floor Princess Square
Annual Fee: £25 - entitles members to unlimited use of the scooters
Total scooter use per year: Nearly 6,000