Skip to comments.San Francisco says no to Segway Transporter
Posted on 01/20/2003 6:06:58 AM PST by NewHampshireDuo
You cant ride your Segway in the City by the Bay anymore.
As of today just about a month shy of going mainstream the Segway Personal Transporter has been banned from San Francisco sidewalks for safety reasons.
San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr., who a year ago joined the hoopla celebrating Segways introduction, let pass a city ordinance banning the high-tech scooter when the citys Board of Supervisors recently voted 9-2 to outlaw the Segway on city sidewalks, spokesman P.J. Johnston said.
Brown earlier had said he opposed the ban, and would veto it, because he thinks its terrible public policy to ban a new technology outright before that technology is even tested in the city, before there is any meaningful debate about pros and cons, before there is any thoughtful understanding of what the safety risks may in fact be, Johnston said.
However, advocates for San Franciscos elderly and disabled won the ear of the bans sponsor, Supervisor Chris Daly, who represents the downtown district, according to Otto Duffy, an intern to Daly, and a solid majority of supervisors, who eventually supported the measure.
Critics of the gyroscope-balanced, $5,000 scooters feared pedestrians might get hurt by the two-wheeled, 69-pound Segways which travel at speeds up to 12.5 mph or three times faster than the typical pedestrian. The self-balancing machines go forward when a rider leans forward, and backwards when a rider leans to the rear.
We dont want to say that it doesnt ever make sense. But in urban settings there isnt enough room for all the pedestrians, said Ellen Vanderslice, president of America WALKs, a Pedestrian advocacy group based in Portland, Ore.
In hilly San Francisco, officials feared Segways would cause more problems than they would solve, particularly for the disabled and senior citizens.
There were statistics submitted to us about injuries and the Segways themselves did not have adequate safety features to alert people they might be behind them, said Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco supervisor who supported the ban.
No state is requiring that its drivers be trained, although some have set minimum age and helmet requirements.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ruled that the Segway is not a vehicle subject to its oversight. Late last year, Worcester (Mass.) Polytechnic Institute become the first university in the world to implement use of the Segway Human Transporter after acquiring three Segway HTs this past fall.
WPIs campus police department has already started using two of the Segway HTs to make patrols around WPIs 80-acre main campus easier.
The battery-operated, motorized devices, which are the brainchild of New Hampshire inventor Dean Kamen, are being assembled at 14 Technology Drive in Bedford. Segway LLC has its corporate offices in the Manchester Millyard.
Segway officials say the scooters have been tested for 100,000 hours on city streets across the nation without injury.
Ammiano also said Segways publicity blitz rubbed officials the wrong way.
Segway didnt help themselves by hiring very expensive lobbyists, he said. I think that backfired on them, too.
The company hired lobbying firms but has made no contributions to any public officials or candidates, said Matt Dailida, the companys director of state government affairs. He said attempts to modify the ban in San Francisco were unsuccessful.
It looks as if (San Francisco) will be the first city in the country, if not the world, to ban this new form of transportation from their jurisdiction, Dailida said.
Segway Human Transporters, or HTs, have safely logged more than 50,000 hours of real time use in U.S. cities, Dailida said.
Tested by the U.S. Postal Service and put through industrial trials for the last year, the consumer version of Segway went on sale on Amazon.com in November for a price tag of $4,950, and are set to begin shipping in March.
So far, 33 states (including New Hampshire) have passed legislation that allows Segway HTs to operate on sidewalks. But Californias law, passed in August, allowed cities and towns to regulate or ban use of Segway HTs in their communities, as San Francisco has done.
In California, Santa Cruz, Oakland and San Mateo are considering joining San Francisco in banning Segways from sidewalks. There is no similar move in congested Los Angeles, city officials said.
There are 3 solid-state gyroscopes, with 3 redundant backups that keep balance for the person. You may try to tip it over, but the microprocessor will rotate the tires such that you cannot tip over. When you park it, there is not a kickstand, it automatically balances itself. To move it around, just push and it will auto-balance as you move it to where you want it stored. Take a look at amazon.com; and watch the movie. There are a lot of really good pictures that show you how well every detail was considered. It was built with the elderly and frail as their primary customer.
Hmmm. Isn't bribery an impeachable offense? I suppose when 99% of our "officials" are guilty, they don't fall over each other to launch bribery investigations.
People on bikes, skateboards, and rollerblades are already on SF sidewalks. I've never seen anyone get a ticket. All it takes is one person to buy a Segway and jealously will take over. It will be a very hot seller in SF. A major downside to Segway though is they will get sued in SF, for the magic number of $10 million, for every accident that happens involving a Segway.
Frankly, I think this ban on the Segway is a sign from God that SF is about to change it's political, if not sexual, orientation.
Homeland Defense should be watching for an AlQaida attack somewhere in the Bay area.
And I'm 99% sure that a few bribery incidents are the least of the 'skeleton in the closet' worries that a goodly number of our elected officials have.
I think that, on balance, we'd be as well or better led by the denizens of a small town's honky-tonks and pool halls than we are by the ones in power now.
Segway would have been better off if they gave the money directly to the socialist crooks on the board of stupervisors.