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Segway Banned In San Francisco 1027

Posted by timothy
from the you'll-walk-mister-and-like-it dept.
bhsurfer writes "The city of San Francisco has banned the Segway [CNN.com] from it's sidewalks before they've even arrived. Apparently Santa Cruz, Oakland and San Mateo are considering a ban as well. What a bunch of spoilsports...or are they? Any thoughts on this?" According to the article, hiring high-powered lobbyists may have backfired. but the city claims safety concerns are behind the decision.
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Segway Banned In San Francisco

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:17PM (#5122041)
    before they have any testing or real user experience on which to base their decisions.
    • by User 956 (568564) on Monday January 20, 2003 @08:26PM (#5123209) Homepage
      Not sure how they could ban something before they have any testing or real user experience on which to base their decisions.

      Because Tom Ammiano is a spoiled little bitch.

      From the article:
      Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco supervisor who supported the ban said Segway's campaign rubbed officials the wrong way.

      New Hampshire-based Segway hired lobbying firms but has made no contributions to any public officials or candidates, said Matt Dailida, the company's director of state government affairs.


      Basically, Ammiano is pissed that Segway didn't try to buy him off.
      • by hype7 (239530) <u3295110@NOsPam.anu.edu.au> on Tuesday January 21, 2003 @01:29AM (#5124890) Journal
        Basically, Ammiano is pissed that Segway didn't try to buy him off.


        Spot on, unfortunately. Whilst Segway spent a lot on some very good lobbyists, they decided against political donations.

        Now, there are all these stupid little local politicians deciding that the Segway is "unsafe". All the while, traffic congestion will continue to grown.

        You know what? I think there's a grand opportunity for a bit of public disobedenience here... just ride the damn things on the sidewalk anyway.

        -- james
        • by JimPooley (150814) on Tuesday January 21, 2003 @05:06AM (#5125561) Homepage
          If you can get there on a segway, you could ride a bicycle or you could WALK. It would do you a hell of a lot better than standing on some ridiculous overpriced machine.

          Politicians have got the right idea if you ask me. I don't want some idiot riding one of those things on the same footpath I'm walking on.
    • by einer (459199) on Monday January 20, 2003 @08:37PM (#5123288) Journal
      Because it's an auto industry conspiracy! Conspiracy I say! And everyone knows that the auto industry is responsible for SUV's and all SUV owners are terrorists! It's the terrorists!!!
    • by casings (257363) on Monday January 20, 2003 @09:20PM (#5123591)
      Lets apply the conservation of momentum to a situation involving a man walking toward another man of same mass going 15 mph on a segway (for this we'll neglect friction).

      Vi1 = 2.235 m/s (5 mph)
      M1 = 77.27 Kg (150 lbs)
      Vi2 = 6.705 m/s (15 mph)
      M2 = 100 Kg (220 lbs)

      say at the end the segway with rider stops in its tracks and the man goes flying, and since the man is travelling toward the man we can say he's going -2.235 m/s.

      Pi = Pf
      M1(Vi1) + M2(Vi2) = M1(Vf1) + M2(Vf2)

      (77.27 Kg)(-2.235 m/s) + (100 Kg)(6.705 m/s) = (77.27 Kg)(Vf1) + 0

      Vf1 = 9.648 m/s or 21.583 mph.

      ouch.

      (sorry about repost forgot to put in my pw.)
    • by AndroidCat (229562) on Monday January 20, 2003 @09:50PM (#5123773) Homepage
      They're probably worried about people recreating that classic SF car-chase scene from whatever that movie was. :^) (Bullet? Steve McQueen?)

      There is a local mall that's near an elderly care centre, and it is a little unnerving when an attack wing of grannies on those electric trikes come whizzing down the mall at you on seniors' discount day.

      I suppose all those people who wanted a Segway could get one of those electric trikes, slap on a grey wig and go for it... But I don't know if anything less agile than a bicycle, heavier too, should be mixing with pedestrians at 15 mph on the sidewalk. (And you just have know that they'll be riding their Segway while talking on their cellphone, admit it!) They haven't banned them from the roads, have they? Heh.

  • by caluml (551744) <[slashdot] [at] [spamgoeshere.calum.org]> on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:18PM (#5122045) Homepage
    But what could be funnier than bombing down a pavement at 30 mph, sending old ladies flying, and knocking over fruit stalls? :)
    • by Defender2000 (177459) <defender2000@@@mindless...com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:45PM (#5122386) Journal
      The next Rockstar game: Grand Theft Segway: SF!
  • Mopeds? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BitHive (578094) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:18PM (#5122046) Homepage
    I've never lived in any of the cities in question, but I know in Honolulu that tourists can rent mopeds, and they drive them on sidewalks everywhere. I would much rather see them on Segways. It might even keep them out of the roads, too.
    • Re:Mopeds? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Deflatamouse! (132424) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:48PM (#5122413) Homepage Journal
      Really? I've lived there 10 years, 1/2 mile from Waikiki, and I've never seen mopeds on the sidewalks *everywhere*. I do ocassionally see groups of tourists with mopeds *on the road*. But I see more mopeds on the University of Hawaii campus than anywhere else. Not on sidewalks either.
    • by jsimon12 (207119) <tzzhc4&yahoo,com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:58PM (#5122501) Homepage
      As far as I know it is illegal to drive a moped or scooter on most major US city sidewalks. They are considered street vehicles, so it is about the same as driving your car on the sidewalk. Maybe it is different in Hawaii. I would personally rather see no motorized vehicles on the sidewalks, hell bikes should even be there, sidewalks are for people and walking.
      • by Anitra (99093)
        I'd be happy to ride my bike on the street instead of the sidewalk. I don't want to deal with walkers - Unfortunately, 2 things need to change to make this feasible:

        1) F***ing drivers need to know that bicycles belong on the road. I have been sworn at more times than I care to count by drivers passing me (or swerving around - see #2).
        2) Shoulders. They're good. It's bad for bikers when shoulders don't exist. I don't WANT to ride in the middle of traffic - it's easy for a car to maintain 35mph, but it's hard for me!

        In the meantime, I will only ride on the road when the sidewalk is LESS safe (for me or re: pedestrians) or when there's NO sidewalk. (I guess that also makes it less safe..)
        • And a lot of cyclists need an attitude adjustment as well. They keep thinking that they are pedestrians, no vehicles, no pedestrians, *sigh*

          Any number of times, I've been passed on the right by a bicycle at a corner, when I'm signalling a right-hand turn. As tempting as it would be to Darwinize the idiot, the paperwork is huge.

          In Toronto, the stupid cyclists (as opposed to the smart ones) tend towards College and Bloor Sts to die. I think it's like the mating urge of Salmon.

  • by God_Retired (44721) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:19PM (#5122063)
    Segway, cool toy, but I just don't see what I would do with it. I can already go on my skateboard pretty damn fast. If I need to go faster I have a bike. If faster than that, my truck. Otherwise I'm walking. I don't get where it fits in, other than some lazy asses and maybe a heavy duty one for delivering mail along the boardwalk.

    I'm not even sure that my kid thinks they're cool. I'll ask when I get home.
    • by Dr. Evil (3501) on Monday January 20, 2003 @07:10PM (#5122620)

      IMHO they're a pretty stupid idea. Most sidewalks are so chaotic that they wouldn't be worth riding anyways. They're too expensive to lock outside, too heavy to carry into the office or onto public transit, too big to stuff under your desk... never mind how they'll do for vehicle range or power consumption. They're not sheltered, so there's no advantage in the rain, they're too slow for the roads, too slow for bicycle lanes even, but too fast to go anywhere people go.

      They're a solution looking for a problem.

  • by Phosphor3k (542747) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:19PM (#5122064)
    Otherwise they are full of bullshit. One of the reasons they gave for banning it was that it weighs 70 pounds and goes 12 mph, meaning the device could cause injury to a pedestrian.
    • youre not supposed to ride bikes on sidewalks! youre supposed to ride them in the street!
      as for the segway, i think they should wait for it to be a problem before wasting their time banning it....i mean, how many of these things did they anticipate being on the sidewalks anyway?
      • by outsider007 (115534) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:36PM (#5122278)
        youre not supposed to ride bikes on sidewalks!

        When I ride my bike in a downtown area where there are lots of cars parked on the side of the street, I get on the sidewalk and ride slowly.

        The reason is that I can't rely on the drivers watching before they slam open a car door. Technically I'm not supposed to do it but I've had conversations with cops about it and they mostly agree that I'm better off on the sidewalk as long as I'm going slow. Same will probably be true for segway.
      • Bikes belong in the street. There is a political/social movement called Critical Mass [critical-mass.org] that advocates bike-safe streets. ANY city can start a Critical Mass ride, they take place in cities all over the planet on the last friday of the month - AND ITS SUPER FUN!

        all thats necessary is a few posters in the bike shops designating a meeting time (city hall, say 19:00) and the group determines the ride based on their mood. Follow the rules of the road, and pass out filers.

    • by svferris (519966) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:27PM (#5122172)
      The Segways should have to adhere to the same rules that bikes do. Bikes aren't allowed on the sidewalk either. They have to follow many of the laws that cars do. This includes riding in the street, going with the flow of traffic. So, why can't the Segways use the bike lane (or curb area) too?
      • by bfields (66644) on Monday January 20, 2003 @07:12PM (#5122644) Homepage
        The Segways should have to adhere to the same rules that bikes do. Bikes aren't allowed on the sidewalk either. They have to follow many of the laws that cars do. This includes riding in the street, going with the flow of traffic. So, why can't the Segways use the bike lane (or curb area) too?

        This is mostly true, but note that it's not universally true that bicycles are banned from sidewalks; in the US this is usually a matter for local governments (though there may also be a few states with such bans, I'm not sure).

        Certainly it's true that, whatever the law says, people on vehicles with nonzero stopping distances (like bicycles) are better off riding with traffic rather than riding on the sidewalks.

        --Bruce F.

    • by skirch (126930) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:30PM (#5122228) Homepage
      Otherwise they are full of bullshit.

      Bill Gates weighs 70 pounds and only goes 10 mph, and just look at all the damage he has caused!

    • by Viewsonic (584922) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:37PM (#5122295)
      And give you a hefty $70 fine. Bikes are treated as motorcycles from a law enforcment standpoint. They must abide by all the same laws. No sidewalks, no running red lights, must use turn signals etc. The reason you see so many people ON sidewalks with bikes is because police are typically lax on chasing them down in a lot of areas. But in high pedestrian traffic areas you will see lots of "bike cops" making sure bikers are on the road where they belong.
  • by elzbal (520537) <elzbal@@@yahoo...com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:24PM (#5122120) Homepage
    The first (in fact only) time I've ever seen a Segway was on the streets of San Francisco. I saw a Postal employee riding down the sidewalk with his USPS-branded saddlebags on the sides. I wonder if they have had bad experiences with Segway on their streets...
  • by lingqi (577227) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:24PM (#5122121) Journal
    Buyers also must attend a multi-hour training course before the scooter is shipped to them...

    I thought one of the main thing about Segway is that it was supposed to be sooooo intuitive like walking? what's up with the multi-hour training?

    besides that - does multi-hour mean 2 hours? or 5 hours? Worse yet - Non of the "mandated this many hours courses" I have ever attended lasted for the specific number of hourse.

    Take, for example, in NY before you get a license you need a 5 hour (or somesuch) course. Not that I am complaining (that much) but the course ended after about three at a "DMV approved course center." - I say this because if the Segway was not as intuitive as they gloat, and a lenghty safty course was really necessary, then I'd fear of walking from now on - While bad drivers for the most part run into other cars, bad segway charioteers will mostly run into pedestrians.

    • I've ridden a segway at my old company (they gave it to us because we made parts for them). It is very cool and very easy to use! I loved it!

      However, I do understand why this is banned. It's too wide and too fast, and would cause absolute chaos if it became popular on the streets of any big city. This is a good move, and San Francisco is solving a problem before it even happened.

  • by Murdock037 (469526) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (nrohtnartsirt)> on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:24PM (#5122131)
    Think of it this way: in ten years time, what will have more fatalities per machine on the road, the Segway or the car?

    Judging from everything I've read about the Segway, it'll be the car, of course. So why don't they ban cars in San Francisco, too? Because use of cars is too widespread, and the public would be outraged if you tried to take them away.

    If the Segway's all the hype suggests, then maybe in years hence the new machine will become as entrenched in daily life as the car (...assuming San Fran doesn't become a national trendsetter on the issue, and kill the Segway before it's given a chance). Until then you can expect this sort of thing. Just imagine how many people are going to worry about the first supersonic turbo-boostered flying rocket cars, you know?
    • by NanoGator (522640) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:56PM (#5122492) Homepage Journal
      "So why don't they ban cars in San Francisco, too? Because use of cars is too widespread, and the public would be outraged if you tried to take them away."

      Don't you think you're perception of what's going on is a bit narrow? The reason that cars are okay and Segways aren't is because they have roads for cars to drive on. Segways do not. Put a Segway on the road and you get vehicles moving too slow piloted by unlicensed people. Put a Segway on sidewalks and you have motorized vehicles moving faster than pedestrian traffic with no real rules to follow since no license is required.

      This isn't knee-jerk reaction, it's common sense. San Fran's the type of place where a LOT of people can afford and will likely indulge in buying these machines.

      • Don't you think you're perception of what's going on is a bit narrow? The reason that cars are okay and Segways aren't is because they have roads for cars to drive on

        You are confusing cause and effect. Cars use roads because roads were there before cars were invented. They were originally for pedestrians and horses, but as the popularity of cars increased, cars became the principal users, and in many places pedestrians and horses are no longer allowed to use the roads. Assuming Segways actually prove to be more than hype, perhaps they will become the principal users of sidewalks.
  • by polyiguana (76056) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:28PM (#5122190)
    Here's a better column about the whole debate from the San Francisco Chronicle. [sfgate.com] Basically, you have a bunch of uptight people over there, over a technology that hasn't even been used by the public yet. Fortunately, other cities, like Sacramento, are waiting to see whether there are any problems caused first, before acting.
    • by sunspot42 (455706) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:55PM (#5122483)
      Who the hell walks in Sacramento? You could run 120mph jet-powered steamrollers down Sacramento sidewalks and not hit any pedestrians.

      Last time I was there in '97 the sidewalks were empty, apart from fat-assed Sacramento residents who jiggled their way across them on their way into KFC or McDonalds for a bucket or bag full of fried lard.

      The reason why pedestrians in San Francisco don't want Segways on their sidewalks is simple physics. A Segway weighs around 70lbs. The average rider would weigh around 150lbs, with some weighing well in excess of 200lbs. The combined weight would be at least 220lbs, with weights up to 300lbs possible. A Segway can travel at up to 12mph. Getting hit by a 250lbs mass traveling at 12mph would be like getting tackled by an NFL linebacker. It could cripple the average adult, and it would kill old people. San Francisco has a large elderly population, and they have enough trouble getting around town without having to worry about being creamed by some pasty yuppie ass tooling down the sidewalk on his $10,000 toy, yapping on his goddamn cell phone.

      It's called the SIDEWALK. SIDE, as in at the side of the road, and WALK, as in where your fat lazy ass is supposed to, like, walk. If you want to operate a motor vehicle, do it in the street. The sidewalk is reserved for pedestrians.
  • by ptorrone (638660) <pt@@@adafruit...com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:29PM (#5122202)
    i use a segway ht to go 7+ miles per day, i given up a car, saved over $10,000 and i've even lost 10lbs with my extra time that i have each day to do more things like (exercise) as opposed to sitting in traffic.

    you can read about it here on my personal journal of owning a segway ht:
    http://www.bookofseg.com [bookofseg.com]

    today i hit 100 miles, it took about 14 days of commuting to hit that, i didn't count other trips or previous commute trips so i could keep careful logs. for the first 100 miles or so, i personally saved about $582.00+ by using a segway ht, gave up a car and lost 10lbs. some things weren't quantifiable, results may vary for others.

    http://www.bookofseg.com/100miles/ [bookofseg.com]

    if you would like to chat about it, lemme know-- i'd love to!

    cheers,
    pt
  • by stubear (130454) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:31PM (#5122239)
    "New Hampshire-based Segway hired lobbying firms but has made no contributions to any public officials or candidates, said Matt Dailida, the company's director of state government affairs."

    The problem apprarently was that Segway, LLC. failed to sufficiently bribe California city officials. Now they're going to have to dig deeper into those pockets to make up for the hurt feelings of city officials and overcome the entrenched pedestrian rights groups.
  • by mESSDan (302670) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:33PM (#5122257) Homepage
    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.
    Translation:

    In California, officials in Santa Cruz, Oakland and San Mateo are still waiting on additional payoffs, and are wary after the much publicized "payoff check is in the mail" campaign failed in San Francisco.

    One official is quoted as saying, "Bring cash."

  • Other Failings (Score:5, Informative)

    by jhunsake (81920) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:33PM (#5122259) Journal
    The postal carriers are ditching it also (and others who were expected to use it, like policeman, security, etc). A quote from a postal worker in this week's Business Week was "You can't keep warm if you're not walking. You end up frozen like popsicle on a stick." Not a ringing endorsement for those states that are chilly 9 months of the year.
  • A Couple Notes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jordy (440) <jordan AT snocap DOT com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:35PM (#5122264) Homepage
    Yes, San Francisco banned this device. We have some very liberal board of supervisors running the city government here that defined the word 'bleeding heart.' Granted, some of the reasons for the ban aren't too bad, but some of them are very big brother.

    The problem is that everyone is worried that the elderly walking down the sidewalk would be injured by one of these things.

    There is also the whole pro-walking thing which lobbied pretty hard against it. They believe this device would cause everyone to get fat.

    The price of the device didn't help its case either. Being a liberal city, a $4000 device is seen as a rich man's toy and rich men should be spending their money on social problems such as the homeless problem, not toys. This viewpoint is pretty common here unfortunately.

    Bikes have been banned for quite some time on the sidewalk and for anyone who has biked down Market St. knows, it isn't particularly safe to be in the road either.

    Rollerblades have also been banned on the sidewalk for some time. I've seen people try to go down the road on them and it isn't pretty given the general quality of the roads themselves.

    Powered scooters are getting more and more common. They seem the safest of any one-person mode of transport simply because they can keep up with traffic. They are obviously banned on sidewalks, but have no real problems with the street from what I've seen.

    Powered wheelchairs however have not been banned even though they seem to cause a whole lot more injury than anything else. That would hurt the disabled however, so it isn't even considered.

    On the other hand, you have to realize that the sidewalks are litterly *packed* with people in many parts of the city. The segway would have caused problems simply because it is impossible to walk without bumping into someone.
    • Well as i see it it makes perfect sense. I live in a crowded city as well and for me it is obvious that putting any kind of machine on the sidewalk would be dangerous at least for some, would cause congestions and havoc.

      So the only machines allowed are for people that could not move around if it wasnt for machines, because it would be cruel to render them unable to get out of their homes. But fortunately the numbers of the disabled are not large enough to cause problems.

      I would not really mind if it took me axtra 5 minutes to get to the subway, if it was on the account of crowd caused by a disabled person on a wheelchair. But if it was caused by some guy who was too lazy to walk, then i would be mad.

    • Phobic (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fleener (140714) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:58PM (#5122504)
      It's a phobic response pure and simple. It's irresponsible to ban an environmentally-friendly transportation vehicle without evidence it is a threat.
      • Re:Phobic (Score:4, Insightful)

        by oh (68589) on Monday January 20, 2003 @08:51PM (#5123372) Journal
        It's irresponsible to ban an environmentally-friendly transportation vehicle without evidence it is a threat.

        Umm, so they only run on bio-fuels such as ethanol or vegetable oil? Oh, they are electric? So they can only be re-charged from solar or hydro-power?

        Sorry, electric != enviro-friendly. It can be, but not always. Most times, electricity is just shifting the polution some where else.
    • by aquarian (134728) on Monday January 20, 2003 @07:00PM (#5122521)
      The price of the device didn't help its case either. Being a liberal city, a $4000 device is seen as a rich man's toy and rich men should be spending their money on social problems such as the homeless problem, not toys. This viewpoint is pretty common here unfortunately.

      Yeah, no kidding. Frankly, I think that's the heart of the matter. The rest is just political rhetoric.

      I'm no fan of the Segway. I think it's pretty stupid, and will never be anything more than a toy. But when I read about it being banned in San Francisco, one thought came to my mind -- "typical!"

      Personally, I hate all the little punk speed freaks begging for money all over the city. But I don't propose banning skateboards, which I'm sure pose a greater threat to pedestrians.

    • There is also the whole pro-walking thing which lobbied pretty hard against it. They believe this device would cause everyone to get fat.

      All other factors aside, these are the people that make absolutely burn with anger. These idiotic health nazis who think they have the right to tell everyone else how to live their life. It's none of their fucking business if someone wants to use motored transportation, even if that causes "everyone to get fat". These are the same absolute imbeciles [cspinet.org] who whine about the fat content of foods and who want to sue fast food places.

      I wish these people would just go live their life of denial and leave the rest of us alone.

    • Re:A Couple Notes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Herkum01 (592704)

      There is also the whole pro-walking thing which lobbied pretty hard against it. They believe this device would cause everyone to get fat.

      Fat? Fat? What they hell are the talking about? Most US citzen's are obese if not outright fat. If they have a concern is that people would get FATTER. Never mind that they live 10 minutes from work.

      I would more likely expect people to be whipping a Segway out the back of their SUV, so that they would not have to waddle the half-block to the front entrance avoiding any pretense of exercising.

  • Dork Factor (Score:5, Funny)

    by simetra (155655) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:43PM (#5122360) Homepage Journal
    Actually, they probably realized the Dork Factor; that these jackasses driving around on these things, looking like they're trying to hold in a massive bowel movement, would be a big distraction for regular pedestrians and drivers. Everyone would stop and look, saying "Hey, look at that dork!" and all sorts of mayhem would ensue.

  • by targo (409974) <targo_t.hotmail@com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:46PM (#5122396) Homepage
    There used to be a time when Britain was THE leading industrial country. But people got comfortable with that, old industrial interests got entrenched, and as a result they had laws in the end of the 19th century that prohibited automobiles from driving faster than 4mph, and a pedestrian with a red flag had to walk in front of every vehicle. Now it doesn't take too much thinking to see that a country that passes such laws can never last as a leading technological power.
    I can just see the US going down the same road with its overregulation of everything.
  • Segway specs (Score:3, Informative)

    by r00zky (622648) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:49PM (#5122420)
    It has different max-speeds (user choosen) which should allow it to drive in sidewalks (8mph sidewalk operation)

    IMO banning all innovation for security sake isn't the way to go, REGULATING is.

    Maneuvering method: dynamic stabilization--five solid-state, angular-rate-sensing gyroscopes and twin-tilt sensors monitor balance 100 times per second to help the HT compensate for the difference between the rider's body movements, varying terrain, and the direction of gravity
    Motors: two (one per wheel) brushless, independent, 2-horsepower DC servo motors and helical gearboxes (24:1 gear ratio); this combination allows motors to spin at a higher, more efficient speed and provides smooth, quiet propulsion
    Chassis: aluminum; withstands 7 tons of force
    Carrying capacity: 250-pound user
    Wheels: glass-reinforced thermoplastic
    Tires: tubeless, enhanced-traction, puncture-resistant silica compound
    Navigable terrain: pedestrian areas, including streets, sidewalks, grass areas, dirt roads, and hills
    Turning radius: 0 (turns within its own footprint)

    Maximum speeds: 6 mph (Beginner key), 8 mph (Sidewalk Operation key), 12.5 mph (Open Environment key)

    Special mode: Power Assist, which allows powered movement over obstacles, stairs, and ramps when not riding
    Platform height: 8 inches (20 cm)
    User-controlled features: maximum speed, steering sensitivity, and handlebar height
    Display: multicolor backlit LCD, shows battery charge and operating condition
    Keys: three electronic, 64-bit encoded keys for Beginner, Sidewalk Operation, and Open Environment performance
    Security: encoded keys
    Safety: redundant systems
    Footprint: 19 by 25 inches (48 by 64 cm)
    Weight: 83 pounds (38 kg)
    Battery type: two smart-charging, 60-cell NiMH packs
    Battery range: 10 miles in good conditions on a single charge, 15 miles under optimal test conditions, and 5 miles average under strenuous conditions (continuous start-stop driving, use on inclines and grassy terrain, etc.)
    Recharging method: conventional outlet plug-in, power cord included
  • Danger Mobile (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:50PM (#5122434)
    Saw a Segway friday evening in Portland OR.

    The operator was driving down the street at night.

    No lights. No reflectors. Grey vehicle out in traffic and no helmet on operator.

    I'd ban the damned things too.

  • by jsimon12 (207119) <tzzhc4&yahoo,com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:52PM (#5122452) Homepage
    Buddy of mine is a Dallas Police Officer and he told me that these suckers were basically banned months ago here in Dallas. Namely because they are a danger to pedestrians, 80 lbs piece of metal with a 150+ lbs person jamming down the street at 12+ mph makes for a pretty good accident waiting to happen. Personally I am glad they are banning these things, they are useless and will just make people lazy. If we need anything we need subways in all large cities, and people can just walk between stations, least it will get people off their ever growing butts for a while.
  • by tstoneman (589372) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:56PM (#5122493)
    My biggest question is where do you put them once you're finished travelling? With cars you park them, with bikes, you can lock them in bike racks, but there is zero infrastructure in place to secure your Segway.

    What's the point in taking a Segway somewhere if you can't lock it down. This means you couldn't take it to go shopping, seeing a movie, go to the doctor's, go to class, etc. You might be able to take it to work and keep the Segway in your office... if you have space. That's about it... it doesn't have any other practical use.

    I would prefer rollerblades to the Segway any day, since they are small and portable.
  • by nochops (522181) on Monday January 20, 2003 @07:04PM (#5122562)
    This is a motoized vehicle, and had absolutely no business on the sidewalk. If anywhere, it should be on the road, with rights/responsibilities somewhere between a bicycle and a motorcycle.

    A sidewalk is for pedestrians, not bicycles, mopeds or anything else. Perhaps, roller skaters, but I think that's the extent of how mechanical a sidewalk dwelling vehicle should be.

    I'm an avid cyclist (both competitive and recreational), and I know damn well that we cyclists have to fight tooth and nail for our right to the road and/or bike lanes. I cringe every time I see a cyclist on the sidewalk because it causes people to expect that cyclists will ride on the sidewalk, and this is just not right. We have a right to the road, and have fought very hard for what little bit of it we have.

    Likewise, I shudder every time I see an avid runner in the bike lane. I guess they do it because they can't be bothered with the lame sidewalk.

    Anyway, every vehicle has it's place in the transportation system. Pedestrians belong on the sidewalk. Bicycles have a right to the road, and the same responsibilities as any car or motorcycle. I think a Segway should fall into the same category as a bicycle; it should have a right to the road, but shouldn't be able to take the full lane unless necessary for safety, just like a bicycle.
  • by larsl (30423) on Monday January 20, 2003 @07:04PM (#5122564) Homepage
    I'm watching this thread closely. I don't doubt for a minute that the PR firms that handle tech clients have seeded /. with paid posters. Segway is backed by famously deep pockets and would be a likely customer for a /. turfing.

    Thus far, all the highly modded posts are quite rightly pointing out the existing laws and science of bicycle transportation. Let's see what the latter posts look like now that that the employees of Kamen's PR company are likely to be working late tonight.

    This [johnforester.com] is a good place to start if you're looking for real studies of transportation safety.
  • Walking only zone? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FuryG3 (113706) on Monday January 20, 2003 @07:04PM (#5122567)
    I can understand this happening in SF, where you can't walk slowly without touching shoulders with everyone. On a large moving platform with handlebars, you're just begging for injuries and lawsuits and whatnot.

    Oakland is a bit less crazy, same with Santa Cruz, and San Mateo is just silly (hey we're a big city too! give us some press!)

    Anyway, there are definitly areas of all these cities where I'd love to be moving a bit faster, as well as areas where everyone should be walking. Bikes, rollerblades, skateboards, mopeds, etc should be banned by an area-by-area basis.

    How about Walking-Only zones (handicapped excepted) in certain areas as opposed to shooting things down individually before they are even being shipped....geez
  • by Powercntrl (458442) on Monday January 20, 2003 @07:11PM (#5122625)
    On the sidewalk in urban areas, you can (IANAL, so this is just based on experience and what I've known cops to give you a talking-to for) ride skates (inline or the older non-trendy kind), non-powered Razor(TM)-type scooters and your Nike Air Force Ones. Yea, you can stop down the sidewalk in your... Ugh, I wish I could get that song out of my head.

    The problem I see the Segway having is the same problem Go-peds have. You can't ride go-peds on the sidewalk. You can't ride them in the street either, most of them lack the equipment and certification required to make them street legal.

    The smallest gas powered (as in engine displacement) street legal vehicle is a 49.9cc moped/scooter. If you take a look at one, you'll notice it has DOT approved lighting, turn and brake signals. I'm sure if the Segway was modified to be street legal, it could be driven on the street, but ask anyone who has driven a moped (usually with a top speed of about 30MPH) what it's like having people not see you and passing you going 10-25MPH faster than you in most cases. If the Segway has a top speed of 12MPH and is less visible than a biycle, sharing the road with cars would be nothing short of suicide.

    As others have said many times before (especially those who ride 49.9cc mopeds/scooters), there needs to be a dedicated lane for low-speed powered vehicles on roadways. Mixing low-speed vehicles with cars and trucks is just as dangerous as mixing low-speed vehicles with pedestrians.

    Issues like these make me glad I'm old enough to have a driver's licence and just drive a car.
  • title misleading (Score:5, Informative)

    by akb (39826) on Monday January 20, 2003 @07:14PM (#5122655)
    The title should include the word "sidewalk" in it. Many posters think that the devices have been banned entirely.
  • by btempleton (149110) on Monday January 20, 2003 @07:36PM (#5122836) Homepage
    Remember that prior to this, the default in most cities is that motorized vehicles of any kind (except the powered wheelchairs of the disabled) are not allowed on sidewalks.
    In some cases vehicles of any kind are by default banned, usually bikes and often rollerblades and even skateboards.

    Segway worked hard to get laws passed to declare their device a special case, not like an ordinary motorized vehicle. Some cities resisted, said, "no, we are not going to make a special exception for your new device. It gets classed like any other motorized vehicle, and as always, it's banned from the sidewalks."

    Where Kamen goofed is he got broader laws passed declaring the Segway to not be a vehicle and thus, according to state and national laws IT IS NOT ALLOWED ON THE ROADS. So in places where it is banned on the sidewalk, it is also, unless they say otherwise, also not allowed on the roads either. I don't think this will be enforced, though.

    I do agree they should see if the device is a danger before deciding where it should go. But realize that the current default is what SF did. What other cities who are "not banning" it have done is to change their rules to allow this one motorized vehicle on their sidewalks.
  • by peripatetic_bum (211859) on Monday January 20, 2003 @08:30PM (#5123240) Homepage Journal
    Think about it;
    This is a device that makes you taller, makes you physically bigger and can make other people move out of your way. I was watching the segway being used in a video promoting the segway and the thing that is most noticed is that people walking would automactically get out of the Segway's way. I have had enough of fucking SUV and the asshole driver bullying everyone else on the road. I dont want to see it happen on the sidewalk also.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday January 20, 2003 @08:56PM (#5123407) Homepage
    The Segway marketing operation bothers me. Vast hype, nationwide lobbying, but no volume shipments or profitability. Just like a dot-com.

    Allowing small powered vehicles on sidewalks is a real issue. The Segway isn't the only contender. What about electric-powered scooters, which far outnumber Segways? What about powered shopping carts, like you see in some stores? What about all those golf-cart type devices sold to the elderly? Where do you draw the line?

    Skateboarders aren't usually a problem because bad skaters wipe themselves out before they hit others.

  • by myowntrueself (607117) on Monday January 20, 2003 @09:03PM (#5123453)
    "hiring high-powered lobbyists may have backfired."

    Yes well when the politicians look at how much they spent on the lobbyists (shirtloads)

    and compare that with how much they spent on bribes *cough* campaign contributions (none?)

    it doesn't take an MBA (like George W's dad bought for him) to work out what you need to do;

    You stiff the berk with the gall to fail to bribe you *at*all* and then spent $$$ big to hire an outfit to harass you (erm 'lobbyist: paid bribe giver and harasser').

    The inventors of the seqway may be geniuses but they don't understand politics.

  • by majid (306017) on Monday January 20, 2003 @09:24PM (#5123620) Homepage
    This article [sfweekly.com] in the SF Weekly gives the other side of the story, and how Segway's high-priced PR effort backfired when a demo smashed into a wall.

    I've seen two yuppies (the financial kind) whiz by on the sidewalk in front of my office in downtown San Francisco (so much for "a device that hasn't arrived yet"), and I wholly agree with the ban - these contraptions are a serious hazard to pedestrians. They are wide, have a high center of gravity and are very fast. They will also probably be driven by the same heedless people who burn red lights in their SUVs (I see that happen at least twice a week in SF).

  • Uh.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cinematique (167333) on Monday January 20, 2003 @11:12PM (#5124207)
    WTF is up with the lame comments along the line of "I can't believe they're doing this!" I get exactly what San Francisco city officials are doing... look at this word:

    Sidewalk

    no no no... go back and look at my emphasis. SideWALK.

    The name alone characterizes itself as a separate place for pedestrians to move about a city or town block. The last time I checked, pedestrians != motorists.

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