Modern scooter gives local man new independence

Leon Search in his Q Pod, an enclosed, four-wheeled scooter, that helps him maintain independence and keeps him moving in more ways than one.

As he’s entered his golden years, Keizerite Leon Search tried his best to maintain an active lifestyle. It includes daily trips to Courthouse Fitness Club from his home in west Keizer.

At one time, he used a Segway to make the trip, but a car exiting a subdivision collided with him as he crossed the sidewalk destroying his mode of transport and making it harder to maneuver even if the Segway was still around. 

“I couldn’t stand very long because my knee and my hip were giving me problems,” Search said. “I had to find another option.”

His search led him to the Q Pod, a four-wheeled, enclosed, all-electric mobility scooter. Search’s particular model is sky blue. 

“It’s not a car even though it looks a little like one, but I get a lot of looks and double-takes when I’m out in it,” Search said. 

His model doesn’t have any climate controls, but there are models with those luxuries. The trade-off is in the battery life. A model like Search’s will travel up to 30 miles on a single charge depending on the terrain and has maximum speed of about 18 mph. The only major modification Search made to his was lowering the seat about an inch from the factory specs. 

The enclosed cab means Search can travel rain or shine, something of an upgrade from the Segway. It even has a windshield wiper. Lights and blinkers keep other traffic aware of his presence. He can turn on flashers to let other vehicles know he is traveling at a slower rate of speed. A small trunk allows him to make quick trips to the store without having hold items on his lap while attempting to drive. Most of all, it’s kind of a blast to drive – even on a short trip around the Keizertimes parking lot. 

Before pulling the trigger on a purchase, Search ran all the specs past Lt. Trevor Wenning at the Keizer Police Department just to make sure he wouldn’t run afoul of any laws operating one in Keizer. 

“He was wonderful about it and he came back to let me know I could use it in any sidewalk or bike path,” Search said. He tries to stick to bike paths, but the occasional trash can forces him into other spaces. 

The new lease on mobility came with a fairly steep price tag, retail costs are $5,000 to $7,000 and can be written off on tax returns as a medical expense, but it was a cost well worth the return on investment. 

“What people don’t realize is when you have a disability is how much independence you lose. And once you start losing your independence, you lose self-esteem,” Search said. “This keeps me up and moving every day.”