Armadale: Dale Cottages gopher riders concerned with laws allowing bikes on footpaths

Gopher riders Jack Dodman, Peter Jewell, Pat Walsh, Allan Clements, and John Gault at Dale Cottages in Armadale last week.
Gopher riders Jack Dodman, Peter Jewell, Pat Walsh, Allan Clements, and John Gault at Dale Cottages in Armadale last week.

ARMADALE gopher drivers are concerned about new laws allowing cycling on footpaths and lack of access to cross roads apart from at roundabouts, which they say can be dangerous.

A group of gopher drivers from Dale Cottages spoke to Comment News about safety issues following a recent report that the machines could pose a risk to drivers and the general public, and related injuries were on the rise.

Acute surgery registrar Edward Gibson from the Lyell McEwin Hospital in Adelaide told a conference of surgeons in Brisbane that a study he had undertaken revealed gopher-related injuries were likely to rise with their increasing use and prevalence.

“This study also revealed that due to a number of injuries involving motor vehicle accidents to non-drivers, it would suggest that visibility and awareness of mobility scooters may need to improve,” Dr Gibson said.

“Head trauma accounted for almost a third of scooter related injuries and further research may be needed to address whether helmets should be required for scooter drivers.”

However, the local drivers were more concerned about safety issues on local roads and footpaths, getting to and from downtown Armadale.

They had not had any accidents, but John Gault said he tipped his machine on its side after tyring to turn too tightly and was helped up by some nearby pedestrians.

He received some grazes to his legs but did not think there was any need for drivers to wear helmets.

Marge Gault asked motorists to be more considerate.

“They should stop and think that ‘one day as I am you will be’ because everyone has to get old,” she said.

They are also concerned at new rules allowing cyclists on footpaths, increasing the risk of collisions.

Jack Dodman said he had a near miss with one bicycle that came straight up to him and swerved away at the last second.

Gopher rookie Allan Clements, who has only been driving his machine for six weeks, said he does not go outside the village.

“I won’t go across Johns Street because every corner has a roundabout on it and they are the only places that have access for a gopher to get across the street,” he said.

“If you go to the cross the street and someone comes around the roundabout and you are halfway across when the car is at the corner.

“I reckon they should have gopher access half way up the street so you’ve get better visibility to see cars coming either way.”

They said there was a lot of uncertainty at roundabouts with car drivers not clearly indicating which direction they would be exiting.

The riders said there were more gophers in Armadale due to the increasingly elderly population, but there were also more younger people using the machines.

They called for secure parking facilities to be installed at the railway station, instead of having to take them on trains for visits to places like the Crown Casino and at shopping centres.

“Most of us can walk around and do a little bit and you have to dodge between shopping trolleys,” Mr Clements said.

“Most people won’t get off their gophers and walk inside because they are afraid someone will pinch them.”

They rejected the call from Dr Gibson to wear helmets but said it was important to make sure arm rests were down so they did not fall out when turning.