Skip to comments.SEGWAY OUT THE PEDESTRIAN
Posted on 03/30/2002 9:16:52 AM PST by forest
What do New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and seven other states have in common? Their legislatures have been lobbied by a million dollar program to pass a crazy law.
This all started a few months back when news reports from coast to coast were attempting to describe a gizmo invented by Dean Kamen code named IT or Ginger. Later we learned that the thing was to be called Segway and was a type of "human transporter" they say will change how Americans get around.(1)
The consumer model of the Segway weighs in at eighty-pounds, which may be a little heavy for some people to put in the car. They are convenient to ride because they contain an automatic balancing circuitry made up of computers and gyroscopes, which makes it nearly impossible to flip the device. In fact, the scooter is actually steered by monitoring human movements. Lean forward and the Segway accelerates, lean back and it goes in reverse, stand up straight and it stops. The scooter runs on batteries and is propelled by two two-horsepower motors, one for each of its two wheels.
At first glance, from an engineering viewpoint, the device is rather ingenious. The problem is, no matter how electronically sophisticated the design might be, it is still little more then a motorized scooter. And, because there is no protection for the operator, the Segway would be a rather inconvenient mode of transportation in rain, sleet or snow conditions.
Those who have tried the Segway admit it is fun. It will zip around at 10 to 12 MPH, is easy to operate after a little practice and could have some utility under certain circumstances. But, the price of the consumer model will be $3,000 and I have yet to find even one person who wants one at that price.
No matter, though, Segways lobbying campaign is getting results. Already, the governors of six states have signed regulations tailored to permit Segway's use in places usually off-limits to motorized vehicles. And, seven other state legislatures are passing bills the governors may sign into law.
But, heres the rub: Segway wants states to treat the machine and its user as if they were a pedestrian on foot. That is, they are cajoling lawmakers into giving Segways free rein on both sidewalks and streets. So far, thirteen states have considered just that. There are a few little exceptions, of course. One state wanted sidewalk speed limits, another demands mandatory helmets and yet another mandates turn signals.
Georgia Sen. Steve Thompson shepherded the Segway bill through his Senate after introducing it at the request of a friend. "The thing is ingenious, Thompson told reporters. We had a lot of our leaders riding it."
And so it goes. The novelty of the scooter seems to be its main selling point -- to legislators, anyway. Lawmakers get a kick out of being the first on their block to try out the new scooter. Segways battle plan is to have favorable regulations passed by the end of this year in every one of the forty-four states whose legislatures meet this year. According to their plan, the remaining six states will be targeted next year.
One big problem is, the device is neither a pedestrian nor a motor vehicle. It will disrupt the flow of people walking on the sidewalk because it goes much faster than humans walk. Yet, it is much too slow to allow on the street. On the sidewalk, it could do real harm if it hit someone while propelling a human at 10 MPH. On the street, it could be crushed by even the smallest automobile.
There is no real fit in an urban environment for this Segway scooter. So, they are legislating a fit. But, mans laws cannot alter the laws of nature, which means that Segways will be involved hitting walking humans and getting hit by vehicles.
Conveniently, no one yet mentioned who will pay off all the lawsuits. That topic will come up shortly after there are a few thousand Segways out on the street.
The owner of the damned Segway that hits me will pay. In more ways than one.
If I recall correctly, Steve Jobs said, "you could build cities around it."
And at 10-12mph + 80lbs + another 100-200lbs for the operator, these accidents will hurt.
Nonetheless, I want one and I imagine when the price comes down a lot of people will have them.
We *are* an inherently lazy bunch!
This doesn't make sense. They let bicycles on the street. How can it be too slow to allow on the streets?
They said the same thing about the car and the plane, by the way...
So, they are legislating a fit.
THE problem is that they are legislating anything remotely related to the Segway...
But, mans laws cannot alter the laws of nature, which means that Segways will be involved hitting walking humans and getting hit by vehicles.
Gee whiz, do you mean just like cars?
There are already ways to deal with someone who has caused harm to another person by hitting them with a vehicle...
This is just another area that government has no business even talking about...
And the follies continue.
Since there are many reports of Americans being too fat, it doesn't seem like another excuse for not walking should be promoted. People who are in wheelchairs are in them because they have to be and always gain weight. If the government wants to get into legislating how we travel, which it shouldn't, it would cut health care costs to require everyone to walk up or down one flight of stairs in office buildings.
Motorized wheelchairs move at walking speed.
I'll be p.o.'ed if they allow these 'smeg'ways on the sidewalks and not bicycles, roller blades and skateboards.
If the dorks at Apple like it, count me out. This is not a MacOS slam, I just don't like Steve Jobs and other 'future-thinkers' of his ilk.
Gee, in Seattle they allow bicycles, roller blades, skateboards, scooters, electric scooters, etc., on the sidewalks. I don't think they're really allowed, just no one ever stops them.
It has a motor, doesn't it?
It's a vehicle, isn't it?
Therefore, it's a motor vehicle.
That it is a slow one, is its lookout--not pedestrians.
Make them wear seatbelts, helmets, and ride in the streets.
As for me, I'll keep walking.
Maybe when the next model of slugway comes out, it will have a built-in treadmill so riders can have some exercise while they zip about.
Whether or not the thing is legal, I don't know. NJ regulates just about every facet of our lives.
I do know, a minor riding any kind of bicycle is supposed to wear a helmet, and regular scooter-riding kids are encouraged to wear head and knee protection.
It's a bit unnerving to see this kid-no protection of any kind-whizzing down the street, ignoring oncoming cars, etc. He even rides after dark, without lights.
I have to keep telling myself: " It's his parents' business-not mine ! " ; but I'm sure,when some unfortunate motorist hits him, the parents will file suit against as much of the community as possible !
They said the same thing about the car and the plane, by the way...Good answer! Who knows if the segway will succeed? But, like the automobile and the airplane, it will seem alarming and out of place at first. The performance is also likely to change a great deal over the next 20-30 years. So while the naysayers may be right in the end - we still should not listen to them and give the Segway a chance.
In the pictures they don't show it. You have to carry it on your shoulders. How much does it weigh ?
Are you women going to carry a purse over one shoulder and a 30lb battery pack on the other ?
Heavens, No! Maybe they can fix up a dealie like a bicycle basket for carrying the power supply. And purse. And groceries. And radio. And ashtray.