Powerchairs and problems with pavements

Powerchairs and problems with pavements

Today I read a very interesting post from the Tentacles of Doom blog. It was about the frustrations of using a powerchair for the first time by twitter user Latent Existence. Many people who use chairs have a real problems with pavements and kerbs, lack of dropped kerbs, slopes and adverse cambers on pavements and paths.

Here is an extract that describes many of the problems of using a powerchair in a town:

“Getting to a junction and finding no dropped kerbs and therefore no way to leave the pavement and cross is frustrating.

Having to backtrack to the last dropped kerb is also frustrating.

Having no matching dropped kerb on the other side and having to take the chair along the road is dangerous.

Latent Existence in a powerchair.

Curved dropped kerbs that go round the corner are a pain. Wheelchairs are supposed to take the kerb at 90 degrees to avoid toppling. Having to turn 45 degrees to do that is irritating, AND the pavement is at odd angles that push the chair to one side.

A dropped kerb that crosses the pavement all the way to someone’s driveway makes the chair go down then up again. Having these repeatedly all the way along the street makes the chair go up and down continuously. They can also make the chair swerve into the road unless paying perfect attention and deploying light-speed reflexes.

A dropped kerb is supposed to be dropped. That means going down to road level. Not two or three inches above it. When a chair goes over that, it lurches wildly back and forth.

When a too-high kerb is combined with a round-the-corner curved dropped kerb that simultaneously goes up a hill on one road and down a hill on the other road, the combined angles plus speed necessary to climb the kerb mean that the chair will topple.

Flailing wildly when going over will wrench muscles, twist the back, neck and shoulders, and cause extreme pain and swearing.

Finding no way to get from pavement to road to pavement so that you can cross is bloody annoying. Did I already do that one? Well I’m doing it again because it’s BLOODY ANNOYING.

Tree roots growing under the path and tearing it up can lift one side of a chair, causing it to tip disturbingly to one side.

Cars parked on the pavement deserve to be scratched as I go past.

Pavements full of pot holes, cracks, patches and worn away surface are not just a minor irritant, they make the journey a hell full of dragging, rattling, lurching, bumping and worse.

A path is supposed to be wide enough to use. Six inches of goat trail with smashed up tarmac surrounded by tall grass and weeds right at the edges on both sides is not acceptable. Grass to within six inches of the road edge is definitely not acceptable.

Paths so old that their height varies by several inches NEED FIXING. You can’t leave that.

I got stuck on patches of broken pavement so bad that one wheel went in a hole. Not once, but twice. I couldn’t avoid the hole because the grass verge had covered the pavement.

I had to negotiate places where the broken, narrow path went through potholes, gravel and old stones at the edge, merged with driveways, with grass covering it at 45 degree angles. I lurched wildly.”

These are all problems that I have encountered with my wife who uses a powerchair. Other countries are often worse but the UK still has a long way to go. The full blog post can be read here http://trabasack.visibli.com/share/wE4ROD


Powerchairs that do not have problems with pavements


We have a friend, Chris, who imports powerchairs that have 4 wheel drive and can go over the roughest terrain. Watch this video for more


Powerchairs like that do not have problems with pavements, click for more info on Chris’s All terrain wheelchairs and Four X powerchairs They have independent controls on all four wheels (four wheel drive) and are extremely tough and resistant to any difficult going.  They have  a unique suspension and shock absorbing abilities and a centre of gravity adjustment system. There are able to tilt in space and can even go downstairs! This is the sort of chair that ‘Latent’ would be happier in I think.

Trabasack a powerchair tray on difficult terrain

Trabasack can be used a wheelchair or powerchair tray, it has straps so that you can keep it on when on bumpy or uneven terrain. You can use a waist strap to go right around your body or the chair to hold it on. Or you can use our ‘side straps’ to attach to the armrests or anywhere at the side of a wheelchair or powerchair frame. They is a lot of flexibility with these four straps to give lots of options.

Also the beans in the beanbag give a slight cushioning and suspension when going over bumps so that it is more stable than ordinary trays. I have sent a trabasack to Mr Existence and his review will be featured on this blog soon!


UPDATE after posting I received this tweet

@ Good stuff. You're going to like what I've been working up. It involves video, a powerchair, rough terrain and a trabasack!
Tentacle Sixteen

I am now very excited!

8 Responses to “Powerchairs and problems with pavements”

  • hotandhumid:

    things are no better in the US. The laws against parking on the sidewalk are ignored by both residents and law enforcement. Scratches do not appear to dissuade them.

    I fought my city for 4 years to get curb cuts and they finally installed 3.one at my corner and one each north and south. This leaves me still unable to get anywhere, I can’t even cross the fairly busy road to get my daughter.

    Just today we parked in handicap at the University and I had to ride all the way back out of the lat to pick up the sidewalk as the ramps by parking are not met by a ramp up to the main sidewalk.

    • admin:

      Sorry to hear that, thanks for your comments. Hope things get better where you live soon. Duncan

  • powerchairs with problems. The only real problem is that we all don’t have access to modern wheelchairs like my Four X DL. The basic design for a powered wheelchair has not changed since they were first invented in 1951. Solid chassis two drive motors and casters. HELLO! wheelchair technology has evolved, mine has a flexible chassis makes me feel like I can tackle anything. I don’t believe that the world should be made wheelchair accessible we should be given wheelchairs that can tackle the real world. Have a look at my videos http://www.mybility.co.uk/videos
    Let me know what you think.
    Thanks for the mention Duncan, I am looking forward to testing out your new trabasack design, when you get it.

    • admin:

      You are welcome Chris. New design arrive today, but not right yet and no use sending it you. Will need to go back to the factory for another go!!

  • Bugger! I was looking forward to testing your new version. Sounds ideal for me. I must admit I have been eying up your small bag for sometime now, so I think I’m just gonna bit the bullet and buy one. Then get one of your new designs when that’s sorted. Out of interest what does one call a collection of trabasacks?
    You should have a pimp my trabasack competion!

    The reason I have have held back so long in buying one is that I have a floppy right leg so for me bigger surface area is better. AND I will need to carry odd essentials in it. The obligatory iPad and my self contained bag catheters. ( clunky at the best of times ).

  • I just watched the video, impressive stuff, at around 1:23 of the vid that looks quite steep, nice to see it handling it well.

  • […] page continues from a previous blog post about pavement problems and finding suitable powerchairs. Activist blogger Latent Existence Route map showing journey taken from Badsey to […]

  • scott mccain:

    I have more of a problem with the lack of user input on basic chair design from the manufacturers.