Typically, modes of transportation at active retirement communities are golf carts, tricycles, cars and community buses. Tooling around on Segways or personal transporters would definitely be out of the norm.
But at East Ridge at Cutler Bay, a life plan community in Miami-Dade County, two residents are doing just that.
Gary Sisler and Fran Plummer have purchased their own personal mobility vehicles and, while others may opt for the traditional transportation, they don their helmets and head off. East Ridge’s meandering street system around its 76 acres offers plenty of uncrowded roadways and wide sidewalks.
Sisler said that he had always wanted to ride a Segway. His bucket list is filled with things like this—things he said he would do if he was 20 years younger. But, he doesn’t let his 83 years of age be a deterrent. Instead, he simply enjoys each day.
He decided that not only did he want to ride a Segway but he wanted to surprise Plummer with a tour along Fort Lauderdale Riverfront. She’d have an opportunity to see her old neighborhood, off Las Olas Blvd. He enjoys surprising her with new adventures and this was one of his more creative ideas.
He found that the tour company, Fort Lauderdale Segway, would offer a lesson as part of the tour. Sisler negotiated that they would only commit to the tour if they could be assured they were comfortable using the Segway.
“We passed with an A+,” Plummer said. “It was a bit challenging to ride on an incline as we went over the river but we did it, even handling the turns successfully.”
Enthused by the experience, Sisler decided they should buy their own personal scooters to use at East Ridge. He used the internet to search and found a North Carolina company selling Roboscooters that seemed perfect. Neither Sisler nor Plummer anticipated they would arrive unassembled but huge boxes were delivered filled with their various components and a video instruction guide was available online.
With Plummer’s ‘we can figure it out’ attitude, phone calls to the dealers and watching the video guide, the pair assembled the scooters in two days.
While assembly was the first step, riding it was another challenge.
“You just have to build up confidence and it takes practice and balance,” Sisler said.
They are quickly becoming more comfortable using them. Safety is a priority; therefore safety helmets are a must for the pair. Sisler adds elbow pads to his attire while Fran opts for a backpack because a purse is too cumbersome.
Over the last couple of years, the use and popularity of personal transporters have grown. An added bonus is that they are green and powered by a battery without needing gasoline. Plummer charges hers on her East Ridge patio.
Sisler and Plummer enjoy the uniqueness riding their scooters around East Ridge.
“Not only do we surprise our neighbors but the peacocks that live within the community’s tropical environs are startled. They don’t know if they should run or fly”, she said with a laugh.
Segway-style riding is only one of their interests as they seek out things to do that are fun and sometimes offer a sense of adventure.
“Age isn’t a deterrent,” said Plummer. “When we read that personal transporters are recommended for people age 16-65, we certainly didn’t disclose our ages. At our age, why wait?” asked Fran.
The pair isn’t alone. According to Roboscooters representative Millard James, at least 20-40 percent of their sales come from older adults, age 65 and older.
And, as the Nike tagline advertises, “Just Do It” fits Gary and Fran perfectly.
They are very involved in the East Ridge community but also take advantage of things available outside of the community.
Often, on a Saturday night they’ll head to SW 8th Street to their favorite restaurant’s bar and enjoy the music and dance.
“It’s not unusual that our enthusiasm inspires others to start dancing too,” she said.
Plummer attends regular line dancing classes offered at the Elks Club, American Legion, the Senior LIFT Center and Pine Crest Gardens while Sisler organizes “Jib Jab”, a political club at East Ridge.
“People know we’re the kind of people who like to have fun and do a lot of laughing,” said Sisler. “When the East Ridge Executive Director Ken Cormier told me he hadn’t heard of any others seniors are retirement communities using this mode of transportation, it made me feel really good; I felt unique!”
For more information, please call (305) 256-3564 for a personal tour or visit www.EastRidgeAtCutlerBay.com