Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why Segways Should Be Allowed *virtually* Anywhere Pedestrians Are Allowed

I read on a news report that a park department leader somewhere in America declared the Segway "banned" from the city's park trails because it is a "motorized vehicle."

That's just an incorrect policy, and let me tell you why.

A Segway is nothing like a motorized razor scooter or a mini-motorcycle.

First off, Segway is a vehicle designed for PEDESTRIAN USAGE. Anywhere a pedestrian can walk, anywhere on a fairly even surface where the tires can get traction, that should be considered OK for a Segway. Segways can travel on grass, gravel, thick or thin dirt - anywhere the tires can gain grip.

A Segway in width takes up about as much room as a broad shouldered man. A Segway takes up LESS ROOM on a sidewalk than most wheelchairs, and less room than anyone walking with crutches.

Segways can get out of a pedestrian's way in a split second. Segways can stop almost on a dime, and CAN turn on a dime - zero footprint turns are possible with a Segway. A Segway can stop and balance the rider perfectly still, remaining in one spot.

Segways can go backward, and can get off the sidewalk to let a bike or a group of people pass them, and can go down or up a curb. Segways can travel as slow as the slowest walking person if required.

Segway tires were engineered to evenly distibute the weight so that Segways do not carve severe tracks into grass or dirt trails. If a Segway rider happens to "bump" into another person, it's really nothing more than if a person walking bumped into another person walking.

Segways are very quiet - the two motors, even when at full speed, produce little more than a loudish hum. Segway motors are quieter than most home computers.

As far as using them on a park trail, whether a Segway is appropriate for the trail depends on the trail itself and the terrain. If it is a dirt or gravel or grass trail, with no severe inclines and no stairs, then a Segway rider would have no trouble negotiating that trail. Stairs are handled by dismounting from the Segway and pulling the Segway up the stairs while using the Segway motor to assist the pull.

So the arguments against Segway are what? Too noisy? Nope. Too large? Nope. Unwieldy? Nope. Dangerous? Nope. Comparable to other "motorized vehicles" like gas scooters or mini-motorcycles? Nope.

Officials and authorities who are in charge of making policy for pedestrians need to put Segway clearance on their agenda. There really are no valid reasons for banning a Segway from a pedestrian area.

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