While I was shopping in a major outdoor recreational equipment and sporting goods store, there was physically disabled customer in his electric wheelchair in the customer lineup. After the clerk rang in his purchases, the customer then requested the cashier to help him affix his LED red hanging lights he had just bought, onto his miniature Christmas trees. They were the same lights used for cyclists and pedestrians.
He had two artificial trees, each strategically mounted on his wheelchair arm rests. He explained to the cashier, that he really wants to be visible and the lights were in addition to a reflective safety vest draped across the back of his wheelchair.
What an ingenious use of these tiny safety lights. Someone really cares about their own safety. He was willing to be a Christmas tree just so that others could see him.
Cyclists, drivers and pedestrians also share roadways and paths with these vehicles. Where should these mobility units or motorized wheelchairs be on roadways? On the sidewalk? On the road? In bike lanes? Where should they be off-road: on walking paths? Or on bike trails? More debate is needed. Some say that people in these devices, should be with pedestrians. Others say they should be share same space as bicycles on bike lanes and bike trails.
The theory of separating traffic by same speed, would group these devices with bicycles. The people driving them, have shown that their dexterity to move along , is quite fast. Often the wheelchair drivers are not the best in navigating these units. They may impede pedestrians. Is it not best that these motorized units with the speed of bicycles, share cycling infrastructure and let people walk peacefully on sidewalks and walking paths without fear of a motorized device skirting about in their way? The elderly who might be anxious and spooked by things speeding nearby or by sudden noise, then may be more motivated to go out to walk when electric wheelchair users are separated and driving along in the cycling facilities.
Given a significant aging population and now empowered with the technology of wheelchairs, and yes, low-cost lights, there will be more wheelchair users asserting their right to share transportation space and freedom to move around independently outdoors whenever they wish.