More elderly take to mobility scooters
SALES of mobility scooters have picked up pace here, with one retailer saying its sales have doubled in a year and another estimating that there are now "tens of thousands" of such devices in use.
Retailers whom My Paper spoke to said demand - mainly from the elderly, disabled and those with walking difficulties - has benefited from prices dipping by as much as 50 per cent in recent years.
Prices range from $1,500 for a basic model to $6,000 for a premium one.
At retailer Agis Mobility, its directors James and Andrew Lee noted that sales doubled last year to 400, compared with the year before.
Warren Chew, managing director of Falcon Mobility, said buyers are between 60 and 80 years old.
Many of them can walk but need help to cover longer distances.
On cheaper prices - a small four-wheeler costs about $1,700, versus about $3,000 in 2008, he linked this to "economies of scale as the market has grown more than 10-fold".
The mobility scooters are usually imported from China, Taiwan and the United States.
My Paper understands that they are allowed on public transport such as buses and trains, but not on main roads.
Boasting average speeds of 6kmh, they are often customised with LED lights, baskets and even portable speakers.
Such add-ons are usually done at local bike shops or by users themselves, said Vanessa Keng, director of retailer The Golden Concepts.
She estimates that there are now "tens of thousands" of such scooters, compared with the "low thousands" when they first appeared about eight years ago.
Lee Chang Xi, co-founder of The Golden Concepts, said they set up the eldercare product retail store to cater to the growing ageing population here.
Asked if the increasing number of mobility scooters would pose a problem, Ms Lee said: "Most people will follow the rules and won't go on the main roads anyway."
Organisations have rolled out schemes involving the gadget. An initiative launched by the Radin Mas Citizens' Consultative Committee in June 2014 lets residents borrow mobility scooters from its fleet of 30 for free, with about 10 being loaned out daily.
A spokesman told My Paper that the service has been well-received, with some seniors saying it makes commuting more convenient to run errands, which "improved their social engagement".
An expert panel led by the Land Transport Authority is developing a set of rules for the use of personal mobility devices including mobility scooters, set to be released by the second quarter of this year.