Ballina businesses call for review of scooters
By MARY MANN email@example.com
MOBILITY scooters. Just about everybody would have dodged one on the footpath at some point in their lives especially in Ballina.
And with that in mind, the Ballina Chamber of Commerce is calling for the shire council to review mobility scooter traffic in the town centre.
The call comes as the chamber lobbies the council to let retailers make more use of the footpaths.
Manager Nadia Eliott-Burgess said scooters posed far more of a safety risk to pedestrians than regulated footpath signs, the use of which the council is strongly regulating.
"Footpath displays and signage pose no further risk to pedestrians than al fresco dining or scooter traffic," she said.
"In fact, the chamber feels that scooters pose a far greater threat to pedestrian's safety than displays or signage."
But Joan Wilson says not all scooter drivers are hoons. The Ballina woman, who has been driving her scooter for the past 16 months, says it depends on who is behind the wheel.
"They can be dangerous, but it depends on who is driving them," Ms Wilson said.
"What I say is that you should drive to the speed of pedestrians and no faster."
Ms Wilson said she and other scooter drivers had in the past attended workshops with the council and local police to discuss issues around scooters.
"They told us a few things about how to drive safely," she said. "But I've still seen bad scooter drivers. It's just about personality."
Meanwhile on the pavement, the chamber and Ballina Retail Action Group want the council to allow footpath signs.
In 2004 the council banned the use of A-frame signs on the footpath, saying they were dangerous.
Last week Ms Eliott-Burgess, who is also a member of BRAG, took a sign to a council meeting, in the hope she could convince the councillors they were safe to have on the town's footpaths.
But so far, she has had no luck.
In a submission to council, Richard Lutze, president of the Alstonville/Wollongbar Chamber of Commerce, said minor obstructions such as footpath signs and displays could help slow down pedestrians and scooters.
"Both of which should be using common courtesies when using our footpath systems" he said.
"We should not just allow complacency of manners and time schedules of a few dictate visitors' enjoyment of our main streets."
Ballina Shire Council's general manager, Paul Hickey, said staff were now drawing up a policy for the shire's footpaths that would cover things like mobility scooters, al fresco dining, footpath signs and displays.
The policy should be completed next year, he said.
Additional reporting by Graham Broadhead