Are there Segways in your city? If so, you probably know what they are– unusual stand-up riding machines that enable people to roll from place to place with no effort other than starting them up and piloting a course.
These unique all-terrain vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, not just for urban adventures taken by tourists, but as personal transportation devices. Some owners use their Segways to get to and from work or school, down to their local bar, or just to cruise around town doing errands.
When they were introduced, the Segway was hailed as the device that might transform personal transportation methods. Ten years later, their Personal Transporter is starting to find its way into the fleets of municipalities and companies.
One of its most interesting uses is for police officers during street patrols or crowd control – the elevated profile of the machine allows them great visibility while doing their jobs. The company reports upwards of 500 organizations are using Segways for security details.
Segway also discloses that they now have retailers in 80 countries around the world, and there are 500 Segway tours conducted in cities ranging from the company’s hometown of Santa Barbara, Calif. to Anchorage, Alaska to St. Petersburg, Russia.
The constraints for riding your Segway are similar to those for riding a bike. You can’t cruise down the street with cars – it’s too dangerous. A designated bikeway is your ideal path of travel, because though you can ride a Segway on a sidewalk, it’s likely to be disruptive to people trying to walk. We can only imagine the chaos that might ensue if you tried to Segway down the sidewalk in New York City – suffice to say that you probably wouldn’t get very far.
Cities worldwide are actually coming up with designated legislation for how to handle Segway traffic in their towns. In Germany, you can ride a Segway on a walking path as long as you go at the same speed as those strolling. In Greece, they decided they don’t need any special laws at all.
The other problem point is the cost. Segway actually doesn’t reveal the price tag of their models on the company website, suggesting that you contact an authorized dealer. But we did a little research and found that there’s no lower price than around $1000, and that’s for the bottom-end, stripped down model.
The last word: The Segway is a great start to moving transportation away from cars, and we’d be jazzed to take one of those tours on our next vacation. But if it has to go in a bike lane, you’re probably better off with a bike. This isn’t George Jetson’s Personal Air Vehicle – and yes, we’re still holding out hope we can fly around in one of those in this lifetime.