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Segway - boon or boondoggle?(16 posts)

Segway - boon or boondoggle?rollo tommassi
Dec 27, 2002 8:27 AM

Will the segway help or hinder cyclists in road user access issues?
At that price, maybe no effect at allcory
Dec 27, 2002 9:00 AM
Or, who knows, maybe I'm out of touch. But $5000 seems like a lot of money to me for short-range, low-speed urban transportation for the masses. You can buy a medium-decent used car for that (my daughter just paid $4000 for a '97 Neon w/60,000 miles) and drive it anywhere.
To afford a Segway, seems to me, you'd have to have five grand just lying around. That means there may not be enough of them to have any effect at all on road issues.
On the other hand, some cities (San Francisco is one) have either banned them or are considering it even before the things are out there, so who knows?
I agreeDougSloan
Dec 27, 2002 9:12 AM
Those seem to be one of those Sharper Image type novelties that might never become common. They are just too darn expensive.

Now, they might assist those with walking problems, but then they are more akin to wheelchairs than mainstream transporation.

I worry and wonder, thoughrollo tommassi
Dec 27, 2002 9:24 AM
that laws passed against this particular mode of transportation can then be used against cyclists? If a segway isn't allowed on 'this' street or that, could it give fuel to the 'bikes on MUTs only' arguments?

It is an aging population, and people are living longer. When you and I are in our 90's (and we probably will, as we are healthy and fit, due to cycling!) will we be marginalised to the sidewalk or MUT? What about wheelchair/segway lanes? Will cars always rule the road?

I don't know, but I do know that I'm conflicted. Why is a wheelchair ok on the sidewalk but not a skateboard? You can't tell me that even a 50yr old guppie (grandparent urban professional!) with 5k is going to be more considerate of others on the sidewalk than a 12yr Tony Hawk fan.

The segway - I hate it, yet I think it could be a useful tool for road user access proponents....
Dec 27, 2002 9:57 AM
I think that we must allow people with disabilities to go where they need to, whether that be with crutches, wheelchairs, or even a Segway. So, if there truly is a need, then I don't care where they go.

On the other hand, if some wheeled vehicle is being used solely for recreation or convenience, then it's perfectly ok to restrict them to certain areas; we don't allow bikes on freeways (or pedestrians) or sidewalks, as they just are too incompatible with either; on the other hand, we have many shoulders, bike lanes, and paved trails that are suitable for bikes that help to balance it out.

I think the bike constituency will always be strong and vocal, and we'll have plenty of influence with law makers and the public. It helps that cycling is so reasonable and natural an activity, that it's hard to make a case against allowing them most everywhere.

I'm not concerned about the side-effects of restricting Segways. I think they are so different from bikes that they won't be lumped together. This is especially true, I believe, when the Segway is largely seen as an expensive yuppie novelty (rather than a device for the disabled).

The Segway will likely be viewed sort of like dogs. Animals are prohibited in some public places unless they are to aid the blind. Might be treated analogously.

I agreeSadlebred
Dec 27, 2002 10:41 AM
The "Downtown Ambassador Force" in Atlanta has been using Segways for a few months. Within the first week, one of the Ambassadors wrecked and suffered from minor injuries. They haven't posed a threat on the sidewalks of Atlanta, but I'm sure the "Ambassadors" have been through a training course. They are required to wear helmet. I've seen them going pretty fast down empty sidewalks.

I will admit from a gadget standpoint, the Segways are "neat." I think their price will limit the impact of them on alternative transportation.

You can see a picture of them using Seways at
Different question.Len J
Dec 27, 2002 9:20 AM
At what price point do they hit the "tipping point" where a larger percentage of the population uses them?

At $4,750 they are a novelty,
at $1,500 they may take over.

good point! nmrollo tommassi
Dec 27, 2002 11:35 AM
Different question.moabbiker
Dec 29, 2002 9:51 PM
Since they aren't sharing the tech, it's unlikely the price will go down significantly.

The same whole scenario was with the Macintosh Computer back in the late 80s/early 90s. They had a way better OS than Windows systems, arguably better hardware, and were a lot more visually aesthetic. But they didn't take over the world because Apple didn't want to license the tech out to anyone. As the 90s roared in with cheap PC hardware, the world looked right past Apple. Now, Apple is a much smaller company with less than 1% of the market.

The Segway will be the same way. A niche market for those who want to spend the money, but the mainstream will not go with it because it's not value for your money.
Different paths to success.Len J
Dec 30, 2002 4:38 AM
It depends on what Segway wants and believes. If they truly want it to be universally accepted and believe that price is the obstacle they will resuce price as economies of scale reduce their costs. However, if they believe that people will buy this at any cost, they are setting themselves up to become another Apple, and will be Copied and sold at a lower price.

re:What about the skeedaddlehopper?dzrider
Dec 27, 2002 11:15 AM
Check out what happened in SF. Pretty funny.PseuZQ
Dec 27, 2002 11:19 AM
"Dave Snyder, former executive director of the Bicycle Coalition and founder of the lobbying outfit Transportation for a Livable City, gave the device a try. He had a hard time getting the hang of it. Then Skelton [Segway rep -- see link below] hopped on to demonstrate. She hopped off, presumably to show that the machine stops itself when unmanned. Last week, Snyder showed me two foot-long cracks, joined together in an "A" shape, that he said the pilotless Segway left in the Grant Building wall."
ooo - thanks, great linkrollo tommassi
Dec 27, 2002 11:50 AM
more importantly, one of the last paragraphs describes how Segway wouldn't support the Bike Coalition in creating more bikeways.

So, no, Segway will not help cyclists or other road users!
NP. That columnist rides, btw.PseuZQ
Dec 27, 2002 12:19 PM
Matt Smith won the "celebrity challenge" portion of the SF Grand Prix, beating out Robin Wiilliams, that dude from Joe Boxer and some other local media personalities.

I have read, but cannot confirm, that he used to race as well.
how many of these will actually get used?DaveG
Dec 27, 2002 5:07 PM
While Amazon may claim that the orders are flowing, I wonder how many of those buyers actually plan on using them as real transportation. I suspect many buyers are looking for status, prestige, one-upmanship, etc. I think there's some intersting technology here that perhaps can be applied to more practical things. However, with the high cost, weight, limited applicability, and inconvenience (where do you store it once you arrive?) I can't see this ever making serious inroads. Probably won't take long to find out.
Why the knee-jerk negativity to the SegWay Transport?Uncle Tim
Dec 27, 2002 9:00 PM
It surprises me that so many are viewing this new contraption as a threat. I see it as a great idea that may sell people on simple, efficent means of transportation.

I cannot think of a single good reason why these should not be street-legal vehicles. As long as the driver adheres to the rules of the road, there should be no problem whatsoever.

I thought the SF cyclist article link was extremely biased against the Segway. Shun them because it won't do anything to curb obesity in americans? I am missing something.

The great problem we cyclists have had to deal with is getting the auto-centric to figure out that roads belong to all of the people. I am for any plan or invention that works to get people out of cars and using a much more efficient and environmentally friendly ways to get around.

I will be happy to share the roads with tons of SegWay transporters.