A delivery driver who nearly lost his hand after being bitten by an infected cat had a Eureaka moment while recovering at home – a quad bike taxi service in Aylesbury.
Chris West required emergency surgery after a stray moggie entered his Kynaston Avenue, Aylesbury, home through a cat flap and bit his thumb.
The 33 year old says the following day he went to hospital in Milton Keynes, where he works at the Parcel Force depot, only to be told it was nothing serious.
However, as the pain grew more intense, he then went to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where he was rushed into theatre as the infection had spread to his shoulder blade. Surgery lasted four-and-a-half hours.
“The bite was absolutely painless and there was barely anything visible,” he said. “I put it under cold water and rinsed it. When I got up the next morning it was very, very sore. It felt like I had slammed my thumb in a door. I thought maybe it was bruised. I took some painkillers and sprayed some Voltarol on it but they did nothing. There was a red line running between my thumb and index finger towards my wrist, following my vein. It ended up near my shoulder blade.
“It was throbbing and I thought I needed to get it seen to.”
By the time Chris was operated on, he was finding it difficult to move his elbow.
“Where it was infected it was really painful. I put up with it for a day and a half but that is all it took to go from a cat bite to needing surgery. It was so quick.”
After leaving hospital, Chris turned his attention to the future.
“When I got back home I thought this has got to be a wake up call,” he said.
“I thought about what I wanted to do with my life.
“I had time on my hands and I wanted to do something different.
“Then I thought about using my quad bike as a taxi. I thought it was a really good idea and I could see it working.
“It’s classed as a car and you don’t have to wear a helmet.
“When I ride it so many people come up to me and ask for a lift. I think it would become a very popular way to get around – especially for young people.
“I’m sure it would be popular.”
Chris said he was able to get insurance covering hire for the quad bike – but has been denied a private hire licence by Aylesbury Vale District Council.
“I can’t understand why they won’t licence it,” he said. “It’s very frustrating. I could understand if it was a motorbike, but a quad bike is no different to a car in the DVLA’s eyes.”
Chris denied the quad bike, which can carry one passenger, would be too dangerous.
“If the DVLA thought they were dangerous they would ban them or make it the law to wear helmets. My mum is 68 and she goes on the back of it with me! It’s only as dangerous at the person who rides it.”
The district council’s licensing manager Peter Seal, said: “Every application must be judged on its own merits and as such, would be evaluated in regard to our primary objective of public safety.
“Our vehicle licensing conditions are designed for conventional cars but we would be prepared to look at alternative types of transport.
“In doing so we would require an application or detailed proposal for us to investigate and ultimately seek approval of the council’s licensing committee.”