It’s Freezing and I’m Stuck on My Scooter

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

Share this article:

Share article via email

It happened on the coldest day of the season.

It was 16 degrees F with wind chill. I was outside, using my electric scooter to take Joey, our cocker spaniel, for his early morning walk. Joey had just finished his business. I was tying the poopie bag when I heard beeping — a string of five beeps — over and over. I checked my iPhone, but it wasn’t the source of the sound. Nobody else was in sight because I live at the beach, and no one would freeze their butt off at the dunes unless they had to.

I realized the source of the sound must’ve been my scooter. When I turned it off, the beeping stopped. I turned it back on and the beeping resumed. Uh-oh. The alarm must be a code for trouble, and the trouble was … the scooter wouldn’t move.

The headlights worked, and the meter indicated that the battery had a nearly full charge. The scooter beeped but wouldn’t move. It was in trouble. I was in trouble. I was a block away from my condo with one of my two canes, a dog tugging me toward home, and a stuck scooter. Do you get the picture?

columnist pic

Joey and Ed in warmer weather. (Photo by Laura Tobias)

What to do?

Fortunately, I had my iPhone. Fortunately, my wife, Laura, was upstairs, though she was far from ready to appear in public at that early hour.

It was decision time: Should I call Laura, or should I call 911 and ask for help from the fine people at the firehouse two blocks away? In the end, asking Laura to get dressed and rescue me won out. I didn’t want the embarrassment of firefighters helping me back home. And Joey is really Laura’s dog much more than mine.

Laura arrived quickly, carrying my second cane so that I could walk back to the condo. I put the scooter into freewheel mode, and despite my loud objections (“Are you crazy?”), Laura pushed the scooter and pulled the dog to the lobby of our apartment.

According to an excellent customer service rep named Barbara at Pride Mobility, the five beeps indicated a problem with the freewheel mode sensor. You can reset the scooter by turning off the power, removing the key (I never thought to remove the key), recycling the freewheel lever, and turning the power back on. Lo and behold, the scooter was working again.

Lessons learned

I love my scooters. I have a TravelScoot for, naturally, traveling, in addition to the Pride Go-Go that malfunctioned. I regularly encourage people to free themselves by getting a set of wheels. I’ve ridden mine all over the world.

I’ve never had a scooter quit on me, so I never thought to prepare for the possibility. From now on, I’ll always be sure to have a sufficiently charged phone with me. (Sometimes I forget my phone, and sometimes it has like 3 percent battery.) I’ll be sure to dress for the weather, instead of assuming I’ll only be out a few minutes and dressing too lightly. And I guess Laura better not be too far away. I sure don’t want to call the fire department and ask them to rescue me.

You’re invited to visit my personal blog at


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Dorothy Levinson avatar

Dorothy Levinson

My husband has had MS for 50 years. Recently , while transferring him to the bed, he fell on the floor at 10pm. I tried to get him up by myself but after trying a few things realized that we needed help. After calling 911 a group of angels picked him up and put him on the bed and it only took them five seconds. After thanking them numerous times they said to never hesitate to call for help. That is what they are there for. My message for anyone reading this is that help is always there and you should never hesitate to ask for it.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Dorothy,

You're right, of course, not to hesitate to ask for help from emergency responders. I used to be an administrative member of a volunteer fire department in MD years ago, so I know that. I would have called them if there had been no other option. In this case, however, I thought it better to disturb my wife than to take a unit out of service when it might have been more urgently needed by someone one else at the same time.


John McCann avatar

John McCann

Very comforting to see that scooters are a viable option. I wanted a dog but was afraid I wouldn't be able to walk it. It is now is possible. You have made my day.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Indeed, John, it's an option. But please keep in mind that there are days when weather conditions - snow, heavy rain, wind - make it difficult to use a scooter to do this. I have a sheltered area that I can use in those conditions, and a wife who can fill in if I'm sick, which makes this possible for me.


Mary Dewey avatar

Mary Dewey

I love this story, Ed! For a couple of reasons:
I use 2 different scooters based on the task at hand. SmartScoot to fly, Atto from Moving Life for local, dog walking adventures.
My friend who "gets" my disease ,Susan, and I have a running joke. Seems every time we make a plan to go to an event, it rains. Literally every time. With the rain comes cold & wind. i immediately lock up, can bend my legs which then makes it worse to get into her car. We find ourselves laughing at this predicament standing in the pouring rain.
So proud that you are still venturing out independently for yourself and Joey-our cavalier spaniel is one of best reasons we have to get out for fresh air and a walk each day. It is good for my soul, given everything else that MS has taken away.
Hope Joey gets some turkey this Thanksgiving.

Jocelyn avatar


Thanks for these stories of scooters stopping, rain adventures, asking for and being grateful to all kinds of help, and for laughter when plans get flummoxed. Been there, as they say!

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

And then, there was the time I was going with my wife as she was being admitted to the hospital for some surgery. It was 5am and there was several inches of snow on the ground. My TravelScoot has a belt driven motor and a bunch of snow got wrapped in it, forcing it off of the motor.

When the going gets tough......

Paul avatar


That happened to my wife coming off a plane in Toledo Ohio. The pilot pulled out his phone and googled the problem and found the answer.
She was saved by a pilot not a firefighter down the street and not her husband.
Read your columns often and enjoy them very much. Thanks for sharing.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias


Ya gotta love that one. As a guy with a private pilot's ticket I know pilots are the best. (Though I haven't flown in the left cockpit seat in decades).

Thanks for your kind words,



Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.

Dancing Doodle

Did you know some of the news and columns on Multiple Sclerosis News Today are recorded and available for listening on SoundCloud? These audio news stories give our readers an alternative option for accessing information important for them.

Listen Here