I can vaguely remember distinctive sky blue cars that were used by people with mobility impairment, stored in rows by the Bridgewater Canal awaiting their first owners . Happily, progression entails that there is no need for stigmatism anymore as we ventured to Silverstone to visit this year’s Mobility Roadshow.
The variety of contraptions driven by mobility users to get around the event was even more interesting, with tribuggies including one that detached itself from the wheelchair user so that he could enter the building.
We tested two cars with throttle adaptation using a lever to pull for acceleration and push for deceleration around our country’s Grand Prix circuit at a maximum speed of, wait for it -40 mph! Other mechanisms to ease operation range included floor mounted controls, left-foot accelerators, lightened power steering, ring accelerators, specialist electric triggers, four- way joystick steering, electric mini wheel steering and remote secondary controls. There are even more expensive gas systems that can be added to ease acceleration operation of the throttle in contrast to more traditional rods and linkages that connect to pedals, or steering wheel ball, gearbox and handbrake attachments to ease operation.
We took a backseat as Steve Richardson, veteran mobility tester who has been driving for 35 years, as well as having passed the Advanced Driving Test, took us for a drive in a Ford Fiesta 1.0 T with throttle adaptation. Conservative speed limit aside, he seemed impressed with the response of the turbocharged unit, first featured in the Focus three years ago.
Apart from driving aids, another company featured opportunities such as trial flights with the net result to further accessibility for those with disability needs.
Furthermore, the forthcoming Paralympics advert for the Rio Olympics further inspires everybody to try what you can and thanks to manufacturers, Ford, Hyundai, and Suzuki that brought cars to the event for the public to drive.
Words and film are copyright of Sotiris Vassiliou