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Transportation Toys

A Hypothesis On Segway Hate 487

Posted by kdawson
from the seg-fault dept.
theodp writes "Admit it, IT is ingenious. Also, IT is surprisingly effective for certain uses, including real cops and mall cops. And if you tried IT, you probably smiled to yourself. So why all the Segway hate? Paul Graham looks into The Trouble with the Segway and offers a hypothesis about what prompts people to shout abuse at Segway riders: 'You look smug. You don't seem to be working hard enough.' Not that someone riding a motorcycle is working any harder, adds Graham, but because he's sitting astride it, he appears to be making an effort. When you're riding a Segway you're just standing there. Make a version that doesn't look so easy for the rider — perhaps resembling skateboards or bicycles — and Segway just might capture more of the market they hoped to reach."
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A Hypothesis On Segway Hate

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  • Or maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Misanthrope (49269) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:07AM (#28924383)

    We just don't see the need for a personal transport device that costs too much for people who are perfectly capable of either walking or biking.

    • Re:Or maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by itsme1234 (199680) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:14AM (#28924437)

      Apart from being insanely expensive you can't ride it legally in most places, neither on the sidewalk nor on the street. And, oh - did I mention expensive? Nah, it's not that, it's how it makes you look...

      • just get a bicycle (Score:5, Insightful)

        by quenda (644621) on Monday August 03, 2009 @06:31AM (#28925171)

        Apart from being insanely expensive you can't ride it legally in most places,

        And why would you want to? For most people, 'it' is inferior in every way to a bicycle.
        Costs more, slower, less reliable, and gives you no exercise.
        OK, so maybe it is hot and 100% humidity where you live, you are fit and ideal weight, so the exercise is not a bonus. How does 'Ginger' beat a folding electric bike?
        This is geeky-cool tech no doubt, and I'd love to try one. But it has zero practical value, which could not clash more with all the hype that this gadget arrived with.

        • by Admiral_Grinder (830562) on Monday August 03, 2009 @07:02AM (#28925307)
          The only people I have seen use one are older people that have no problem being on there feet, but takes great effort to walk or they walk slower than a baby can crawl. I guess it has a non-zero practicality after all. Takes up less space than a power chair and is more mobile.
          • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:46AM (#28928305) Homepage

            Except for the fact that if you're a slow/weak walker, you'd rather be seated than have to stand on this contraption.

            I see the Segway as an excellent indoor or limited-range vehicle, e.g. in museums, malls, factories, big dumb mansions, maybe golf courses ? The submitter's example of mall guards is perfect, IMO. They have to make their rounds a gazillion times, where the increased mobility is greatly welcome.

            For everyday commuting, however, the Segway is far too restrictive and simply unusable in many cities due to pedestrian volume, regardless of bylaws. Even in my relatively quiet Ottawa, I couldn't see myself using this on the sidewalks, and with all the idiot gov't drivers I wouldn't trust the streets either.

            It's an excellent niche product, end of story.

        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday August 03, 2009 @07:21AM (#28925457) Journal
          The ways in which it beats a bike aren't wildly useful, outside of niche applications; but there are some:

          Stopping: a segway stops swiftly and can remain in place without extra effort by the rider or any loss of stability.

          Turning: a segway can turn either on the move or entirely in place(being able to turn entirely within your own footprint is handy for tight areas).

          Visibility: riding a segway gives you a few extra inches, generally enough to see across a crowd, that a bike typically doesn't.

          Now, for most people, those advantages don't outweigh the costs of a whole bunch of fancy gyroscopes and some dirty looks; but for those that do need them(mall cops and tour groups, for instance, where takup has been pretty decent) they do count.
          • by dr2chase (653338) on Monday August 03, 2009 @08:27AM (#28926167) Homepage
            I don't think a Segway stops any faster than a bicycle. An regular bicycle can stop at about .5G using the front brake, about .25G using the rear brake. The limits are imposed by physics; either going over the handlebars, or losing traction as weight is transferred forward (can real cyclists stop that fast? Yes, I have done it myself). A Segway rider is pretty much over the wheels (i.e., the CG is well forward of where it is on a bicycle). It's possible that a Segway could stop that fast, if it tilted backward by about 27 degrees (atan 0.5) -- can it do that?

            A bicycle also gives you a few extra inches, depending on the bike. I cannot easily touch the ground, even stretching and shifting, from the seat of the bike I usually ride. Standing on tippy-toes on the pedals gives me at least an extra foot over my standing height.

            I can still see it working better for a mall cop, most cases, but two out of your three claims aren't wins -- the Segway scores worse, or no better.

            Speaking of maneuverability, can a Segway do http://www.vimeo.com/groups/14976/videos/4207784 [slashdot.org]? :-)
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              I don't think a Segway stops any faster than a bicycle. An regular bicycle can stop at about .5G using the front brake, about .25G using the rear brake. The limits are imposed by physics; either going over the handlebars, or losing traction as weight is transferred forward (can real cyclists stop that fast? Yes, I have done it myself). A Segway rider is pretty much over the wheels (i.e., the CG is well forward of where it is on a bicycle). It's possible that a Segway could stop that fast, if it tilted backward by about 27 degrees (atan 0.5) -- can it do that? A bicycle also gives you a few extra inches, depending on the bike. I cannot easily touch the ground, even stretching and shifting, from the seat of the bike I usually ride. Standing on tippy-toes on the pedals gives me at least an extra foot over my standing height. I can still see it working better for a mall cop, most cases, but two out of your three claims aren't wins -- the Segway scores worse, or no better. Speaking of maneuverability, can a Segway do http://www.vimeo.com/groups/14976/videos/4207784 [slashdot.org]? :-)

              A decent bike rider also shifts their center of gravity backward or forwards as needed. Blasting downhill on singletrack, you slide back on the seat or hang your ass over the rear tire. Skid stopping a hipster fixie, you lean as far forward over the front wheel as possible. BTW, if you cant stand on your tippy-toes while seated, the seat is too high, or the frame is too large.

          • by mdarksbane (587589) on Monday August 03, 2009 @09:25AM (#28927029)

            It also has the added advantage of not being easily knocked over when you leave it some place. You just step off and it stays where it is.

            And believe it or not, there *are* places where the added exercise (and therefore stink and sweat) of a bike is not an advantage.

            I've seen them used by crews for different large events as an alternative to those little carts you see people drive around, and they seem to work really well for that. When you have to travel back forth across the super dome many times a day through a large crowd it can be an improvement on a bike or walking. Or if you have to do something like that while wearing a suit.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by stg (43177)
          The problem is that most people that could use a Segway won't use a bike - they'll just use a car...
      • Re:Or maybe... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday August 03, 2009 @07:08AM (#28925339)

        Apart from being insanely expensive you can't ride it legally in most places, neither on the sidewalk nor on the street. And, oh - did I mention expensive? Nah, it's not that, it's how it makes you look...

        Oh yeah, don't forget the incredible hype before the thing even came out. You know, how It was going to change the way cities were designed and It was the most revolutionary thing since the invention of the wheel. Yeah, it must be how it makes the rider look. /s
        People hate the Segway because of the over the top, ridiculous pre-release marketing. The Segway is an interesting device, but it is a niche market. It is not a "world changing" device.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by foniksonik (573572)

          That's it for me... was supposed to change things. Didn't change anything.

          If they had priced it at $699 and taken a loss for the first year everybody would have gotten one. "New crappy PC? no, get me a Segway", "iPhone? no get me a Segway instead"

          They priced themselves out of their own market. The laws would have been changed if everyone had one and loved them. IT really could have been a game changer. I'd totally take one to work... I live about 12 miles from my work which is too far to ride a bike comfort

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Lumpy (12016)

            T really could have been a game changer. I'd totally take one to work... I live about 12 miles from my work which is too far to ride a bike comfortably as it's up and down hills and my work doesn't have showers...

            an electric assist bike would have worked for you for around the $695.00 mark. I can ride one over the same commute you do without breaking a sweat at an average speed of 15-20mph. charge it when I get there and it's ready for my ride home.

            Works great, my buddy's bike I tested has a huge hub motor

          • Re:Or maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday August 03, 2009 @11:59AM (#28929539)

            If they had priced it at $699 and taken a loss for the first year everybody would have gotten one.

            No, they wouldn't have. Because much of their marketing hype pointed to the weaknesses of the product, though it recast them as strengths. When they said "cities will be redesigned for this", what they meant is "cities will have to be redesigned for this to have any use for most people".

            And nothing about the Segway makes it worth the cost of redesigning cities around it.

        • Re:Or maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rho (6063) on Monday August 03, 2009 @09:47AM (#28927373) Homepage Journal

          When people say "People do/have/are/etc." they actually mean "I do/have/are/etc." But it's more comforting to believe you're part of a crowd, even when you're not.

          People don't give a shit about the Segway.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gad_zuki! (70830)

          I think you nailed it. As technology its awesome and after spending an afternoon with one I was really impressed, but I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from all the crazy PR and hype on its release date. Everything was 'segway this' or 'segway that.' There was no intelligent discussion about the device, just marketing morons and tv personalities selling us on a few scripted marketing bullet points. Considering geeks dont want to be spoonfed media bullshit, it really meant that the people who were mos

      • Re:Or maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TapeCutter (624760) * on Monday August 03, 2009 @07:49AM (#28925713) Journal
        "it's how it makes you look..."

        I think it's an instinctual thing, the rider is literally putting themselves on a pedestal. Sort of like a poor man's pope-mobile.
      • Re:Or maybe... (Score:5, Informative)

        by mcgrew (92797) on Monday August 03, 2009 @08:19AM (#28926049) Homepage Journal

        Here in the midwest you don't see a lot of segways, so I never heard of "segway hate" before; the only ones I've seen had cops on them. And a lot of people don't like cops at all no matter what's transporting them. Between crooked cops, cops with bad attitudes (like the one in Chicago that beat up the five foot tall woman bartender on camera and the one who beat a shackled man in a wheelchair, again on camera), to bad laws that good cops have to enforce, cops have gotten a bad name.

        But if it was a civilian on a segway I think you hit the nail on the head. It's kind of like caddilac hate; it's a combination of envy and the smug, self-important "I'm better than you" attitude people who drive rediculously expensive cars have and the sociopathic way they're driven.

        When the patent runs out you'll see $200 segways, and you this "problem" will go away.

        The GP mentioned bicycles, I used to ride one untill I took a nasty spill on the way to work. I imagine a segway would be quite a bit safer than a bicycle. I'm looking forward to when they're affordable.

        • Re:Or maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by natehoy (1608657) on Monday August 03, 2009 @09:06AM (#28926749) Journal
          Safety statistic comparisons between a segway and a cycle are going to be tricky. They are completely different vehicles operating in different areas.

          I've only got a couple thousand bicycle commuting miles under my belt, but for my commute a segway would be completely impractical. I ride 15 miles each way, and most of that commute is on roads that don't have sidewalks (a good chunk of the commute is on roads that lack shoulders entirely). By cycling carefully (that is, staying as close to the side as possible, riding to the right of the white when there is a shoulder and it's not too broken up, and watching my mirror and being aware that every car might decide not to move over), I've managed to go two years without an accident at all. A few close calls, but no accidents.

          But a segway is a pedestrian device, not a roadway one. The major danger with pedestrians is being unaware of the stopping distance of cars, and/or encountering a car that fails to yield in a crosswalk. A car taking a right-hand turn onto a side road with a "blind crosswalk" (a crosswalk the driver cannot see until they are executing the turn, say due to parked cars) would be a close second on the danger scale.

          A "safe" segway rider is probably safer than a "safe" bicycle rider only because the segway rider can come to a stop at any place they'd likely encounter traffic and wait for traffic to pass or recognize their presence, while a "safe" bicycle rider has traffic closing behind them and if the traffic is inattentive or has a beef with cyclists, the cycle is an easy kill.

          The real risk with segways and cars is speed. If the segway driver is tootling along on a sidewalk and makes a fast turn onto a crosswalk, there may not be enough time for a car doing 25MPH to come to a stop. Pedestrians tend to (but don't always) stop at the road edge and look for the cars to stop first, and even if they step out they won't tend to be moving very fast into the lane, so if a car can't stop they can at least swerve. Bicycles (with riders mounted, not walking the cycle) and segways have a greater opportunity to get completely in front of the car, and therefore an "unsafe" foot pedestrian is easier to avoid than an "unsafe" segway rider (or bicycle rider who thinks they are a pedestrian all of a sudden, which is also a very stupid idea).

          But a segway is limited to 12MPH and areas where they can legally use sidewalks. So the effective range is greatly reduced, and a segway driver is actually more of a risk to the pedestrians around them than anything else is a threat to them. A bicycle (by law) spends most or all of its time in the motorway, not on the sidewalks. A segway operates in pedestrian zones where there are fewer things capable of hitting them.

          The segway may be safer TO THE RIDER, but it's an increased risk to everyone around it, since it is operating silently at speeds 3-4 times the average pedestrian. Walking along, see an interesting news headline or something in a shop window, stop and walk sideways suddenly, and WHAM, "segway hood ornament".

          This is probably part of the cause of "segway hate", or at least dislike. Segways are as dangerous to pedestrians as bicycles, yet they are allowed to operate on the sidewalks. A well-designed electric bicycle will be cheaper, faster, have better range, and operate on the streets where it is not increasing the risk to pedestrians. The segway is a "new niche" which we don't really have a safe spot for in most places yet.

          Dean Kamen was right about one thing. He said that segways would prompt a redesign of cities. And you do need to redesign a city to allow safe use of segways. He just assumed that enough people really wanted them to justify that redesign.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016)

        Everything has a "how it makes you look" effect. The ho-hum Harley with ape hanger bars? makes you look like a goofy bar fighting biker wannabe.

        Smartcar or Prius driver? You look smug to others.

        Driving a Cadillac version of the suburban XLT and you look like a raging Male Chicken.

        the problem is that the segway has very limited use. It really is not useful for human transportation as it's not allowed in the streets and it's range is too small for any real use other than the novelty. Most of the people I

    • Re:Or maybe... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by somersault (912633) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:16AM (#28924451) Homepage Journal

      I bought an electric scooter to use on the journey to work, and then after using it a couple of times, realised I'd be a lot better off just walking so as to get some exercise (and it's the best decision I've made for a long time - even since I started driving to work again I have kept up with doing a bit of walking in the evenings and weekends).

      Sure a scooter is pretty fast on flat terrain with, but seriously I don't see the use in such a cumbersome device for a cop or mall-cop. If they are chasing someone they are bound to have to get off the thing at some point, and then will be so unhealthy for having not walked anywhere for a year (exaggeration of course) that they won't be able to catch up..

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bhima (46039) *

        I bought an electric bicycle for much the same reason. As far as I am concerned it is the best way to get around within the small city I live in. My Ducati is too fast to comfortably drive within the city. Finding a parking space for my car is frequently a pain. The electric bike gets me into the city in minutes, it park anywhere and on all but the hottest of days I get where I am going without soaking myself in sweat... often in similar or less time than using my car. I'm using this experience to engi

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Lots of people have those old/fat-person-mobiles which are pretty expensive too. I don't care about the cost so much as the fact that they take up a lot of pavement and I have to get out of their way as they barge though.

      In the UK you are not allowed to ride a bike on the pavement, so why should you be allowed an even more dangerous electric scooter or Segway?

    • Bingo (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:35AM (#28924573)

      My objection to the Segway is that we already HAVE a two wheeled, gyroscopicly balanced transport device: It is called a bicycle. Works much better, and is better for you. In the event that the distances you are covering are too far for that, but you still want an efficient two wheeled transport, there's scooters and motorcycles. Even smallish ones can usually reach highway speeds.

      I just don't see the point in the Segway, especially given the price. It can't go that fast, it can't go that far, so it isn't a replacement for a motorized transport. While it technically might be a replacement for a bike... Why? What's wrong with a bike?

      Also the whole package seems kinda... well... stupid. Why all the effort to balance the thing on two, side by side wheels. Why not do as Maddox noted and add a third wheel (http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=segway_more_complicated_than_it_needs_to_be)? To me it seems like a tech demo, more than a useful thought in transportation.

      Finally there is the point that a lot of Segway owners are, like the author of this, smug dickheads. They have this attitude of "Oh this thing is so amazing, and I feel so sorry for all you plebs who are uninitiated in to the glory of Segway." My response is "I feel sorry that you spent ten times what I did on my bike for something that goes half the speed."

      • Re:Bingo (Score:5, Informative)

        by bkpark (1253468) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:41AM (#28924619) Homepage

        My objection to the Segway is that we already HAVE a two wheeled, gyroscopicly balanced transport device: It is called a bicycle. Works much better, and is better for you. In the event that the distances you are covering are too far for that, but you still want an efficient two wheeled transport, there's scooters and motorcycles. Even smallish ones can usually reach highway speeds.

        Actually, a bicycle is not gyroscopically balanced [wikipedia.org]. The angular momentum in the bicycle wheel is tiny compared to the overall mass and moment of inertia of bicycle and the rider. It's actually the rider's own sense of balance (whether the hands are on the handle or not) that keeps the bicycle standing, and which is why you have to learn to ride one.

        This isn't to say, of course, that Segways are superior just because they use a gyroscope.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by X0563511 (793323)

          From the very article you link to - gyroscopic/centrifugal force does play a part.

          Balance

          A bike remains upright when it is steered so that the ground reaction forces exactly balance all the other internal and external forces it experiences, such as gravitational if leaning, inertial or centrifugal if in a turn, gyroscopic if being steered, and aerodynamic if in a crosswind. Steering may be supplied by a rider or, under certain circumstances, by the bike itself. This self-stability is generated by a combina

      • Re:Bingo (Score:5, Insightful)

        by virg_mattes (230616) on Monday August 03, 2009 @09:01AM (#28926689)
        I've seen a lot of discussions about how a Segway and a bicycle compare, but yours is the most logical I can find, so I'll respond to you. The Segway isn't a substitute for a bicycle, which is part of the problem. But, that doesn't mean that a bicycle can substitute for it in all cases either. If you're having trouble picturing a place where it would be more useful than a bike, picture going to work in a big city, in a high rise. Ride your bike to the building. Then, ride it inside, through the lobby, among the crowd. Ride it into the elevator, and then out of it again, down the hall and to your office. My guess is that you'd be in a fistfight by the time you got done (even if you walked your bike through the crowd and into the elevator), but a Segway can move in a crowd at half a mile an hour and takes up not much more room than a person.

        Sure, it's a limited market, but then that's been the problem. As others suggested, it would make a very reasonable replacement for a mobility scooter, if the person using it can stand on it. For those whose jobs require a lot of walking (postal delivery, mall cops, and the like) it can be a godsend. Sure, you can argue that they don't get enough exercise, but if I was doing that job and this device meant that I didn't get flat feet by the time I was forty I'd use it, and I'd get my exercise like every other office worker, at the gym. Moreover, a bicycle would be a poor choice for both of the jobs mentioned and no replacement at all for a mobility scooter.

        As to being smug dickheads, the only real reason for that is that people who tend to have enough money to buy this sort of device also tend toward being elitist. If you want an example of bikers who can be smug dickheads, join a bike race or triathlon that has an entrance fee sometime, and you'll get plenty of snide comments about your "cheap" bike.

        Virg
    • Re:Or maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pjt33 (739471) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:38AM (#28924599)

      Or it could just be a special case of a more general rule: people dislike other road-users, and especially other classes of road-users. Drivers, cyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians all hate each other. Cyclists who use lights at night hate cyclists who don't because they're letting the side down. Cyclists who don't probably think those who do are stuck-up twits. Other subclasses (particularly taxi-, bus-, and lorry-drivers) also attract particular enmity. So why should Segway-riders expect to be different?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by BlackBloq (702158)
        And everyone hates us ... the skateboarders!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851)
        Not really, cyclists hate everybody else because they tend to be self righteous pricks. Drivers hate cyclists because they're self righteous pricks that don't obey the traffic laws. Never noticed Drivers or motorcyclists hating each other. Pedestrians hate all the rest of them because of the lack of respect and danger that the others represent.

        And everybody hates Taxis because, let's be honest, they have a tendency to drive too fast and with too little consideration for those around them.
        • Re:Or maybe... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by pjt33 (739471) on Monday August 03, 2009 @08:26AM (#28926133)

          Not really, cyclists hate everybody else because they tend to be self righteous pricks.

          This makes them different to everyone else how?

          Drivers hate cyclists because they're self righteous pricks that don't obey the traffic laws.

          This makes cyclists different to drivers how?

          I refer you to the part of my GP post which says "people dislike other road-users". This dislike is intensified by things like differences in acceleration and speed - I could have added "people who drive at the speed limit" as another subclass. The main reason drivers hate cyclists is because they're slow and hold you up; the main reason cyclists hate drivers is because some of them are too impatient to wait when the law says that the cyclist has priority / right of way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)

      Exactly, it's the cost. If you got on a bike, wearing a clown outfit and held a huge wad of burning hundred dollar bills, the effect would be the same. If segways were only a few hundred dollars, it wouldn't look nearly as stupid.

      Nothing to do with it looking like you're not working.

      Not that someone riding a motorcycle is working any harder, adds Graham, but because he's sitting astride it, he appears to be making an effort

      Right, because sitting looks so much harder than standing.

      A better example would be if you saw someone riding one of those motor scooters designed for people with limited mobility, but then they parked it and walked away, with

    • Re:Or maybe... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by famebait (450028) on Monday August 03, 2009 @06:04AM (#28925035)

      That only explains why we don't all get one, not why we despise those that do.

      Personally I think it's because it just looks silly / "gay". Some, like TFA, might argue that this is the result of intrinsic aspects of its design. I suspect that it is a more than sufficient combination that
      A) We are not used to seeing it
      and
      B) It does not, unlike, say a motorcycle, exude power to counterbalance that unfamiliarity.

      I believe if the regular bike was introduced today, reactions would be much the same.

    • Re:Or maybe... (Score:4, Informative)

      by suso (153703) * on Monday August 03, 2009 @07:15AM (#28925399) Homepage Journal
      Exactly, if the Segway was $700 or less, I'd consider one. But for $3000+, I could buy a motorcycle that would go faster, further and be a little more normal. Heck, for $3000 I could buy a high end racing bicycle and put an electric motor on it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jo42 (227475)

      Every time I see "Segway", I don't see the word "Segway", I see the word "Smegway". Only because a smeghead [urbandictionary.com] would buy one of those.

  • I'd buy one (Score:5, Funny)

    by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:07AM (#28924385) Homepage
    but the Magicians Alliance would never allow it.
  • by paiute (550198) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:08AM (#28924395)

    The technology is pretty sweet, but really. If you can stand, you should be walking. If you can stand but can't walk, then okay. But how much of the population fits that profile?

    It makes me think of the humans in Wall-E.

  • by StripedCow (776465) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:11AM (#28924411)

    standing is a lot more fatiguing than walking actually...

    • by Chrisq (894406)
      I'll second that. An hour standing in a queue is far more tiring on the feet than a six mile (about 2 hour) walk.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kikan (22328)

      I don't use a Segway, I do unicycling, even to go to work.

      It's more fun ! Not really easy to learn, no really as efficient as a bicycle, quite a lot more tiring, but a lot of joy on each trip, and many smiles on pedestrian faces. And as both hand are free, I can read/hold an umbrella. And it's a kind of everyday-sport, better for health than just standing on the segway :-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by moonbender (547943)

        And as both hand are free, I can read/hold an umbrella.

        Okay, with that imagine in mind, I think I'd also smile if you were passing by. Particularly if it weren't raining and you'd still be holding that umbrella. ;)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by svtdragon (917476)

        ...[M]any smiles on pedestrian faces [and] I can read/hold an umbrella.

        I'd smile too, if I saw you trying to read an umbrella...

  • Over-engineered (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sqrt(2) (786011) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:12AM (#28924419) Journal

    There are few situations where a bicycle wouldn't be a better, cheaper, and more efficient option. The segway is cool, but it's a solution looking for a problem. It's over engineered, too expensive, and in the vast majority of situations offers no benefit over the alternatives.

  • by synthesizerpatel (1210598) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:12AM (#28924423)

    No. I think most people resent Segway owners because they can _afford_ a multi-thousand dollar replacement that the rest of us poor suckers have to earn using the old left-foot->right-foot technique.

    If Segway's had a reasonable cost that resentment would go away really quick.

    In Las Vegas fat or lazy people can rent sit-n-go scooters to cart them around the casino because walking would be too much effort. And at that point, you're doing less work than someone standing and only slightly more work than someone sitting in a chair. It's popular because it's cheap, and people have absolutely no shame in using them if they're just lazy.

    And interesting theory that there are deep psychological issues but way off the mark. They just cost too much. If they were $500 everyone would have one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Antony-Kyre (807195)

      Even if it were $500, would there be a big enough demand for one? Maybe in some areas. I can think of a few places. Perhaps college campuses where walking from point A to point B might take 20 minutes or more. Or large mall areas. But, in everyday use, who would need one, if simple walking and bicycling suffices?

      Maybe if they could make one that could fly...

      • by polar red (215081)

        where walking from point A to point B might take 20 minutes or more.

        bicycle!!

    • by CountBrass (590228) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:40AM (#28924611)
      I don't think that's true at all.

      I think it's to do with people riding them on pavements: they take up more room than a walker and if you collide with them they hurt.

      People would (and do) react the same way to cyclists trying to ride on a crowded pavement.
    • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338) on Monday August 03, 2009 @05:25AM (#28924823) Journal

      No. I think most people resent Segway owners because they can _afford_ a multi-thousand dollar replacement that the rest of us poor suckers have to earn using the old left-foot->right-foot technique.

      If Segway's had a reasonable cost that resentment would go away really quick.

      Except we're on Slashdot, not on some inner city single black moms site. (No offense to those, just using them as an example of someone who actually has financial problems.) We have plenty of people here who were arguing against taxing incomes over 250k a year because it would personally affect them.

      Trust me, there are plenty of us who could afford a Segway without problems. Not to brag, but I could buy one out of my day-to-day account at the moment, no need to even withdraw from the savings account or cancel any investments.

      There also are a lot of us around who are into new gizmos and gadgets just because they're new gizmos and gadgets.

      When the combination of the two tells you that they see no point in a Segway, then maybe, just maybe, and I know it might sound crazy, they just don't see the point of a Segway.

      What for? It doesn't really go any faster than I can walk, it doesn't even go everywhere where I can walk, it's nowhere as maneuverable on a crowded sidewalk as walking (wake me up when it can just sidestep to get out of the way of someone running), it's extra effort to haul it to where it can be recharged after each trip (it can't go up or down stairs), it takes up space in your trunk if you want to drive anywhere and still use it there (it's not like you can just commute on it), etc. And most importantly, standing for long periods of time is actually less comfortable than walking.

      Plus, you need _some_ movement or you'll get thrombosis sooner or later, and/or end up looking like a beached whale. So the few calories you save by just standing on it, it's calories you'll have to exercise to shed later. You haven't actually saved any effort, you just did the opposite of smart time management. Instead of profiting from that short walk to the groceries store to also get some minimal exercise out of it, you've just created the case for allocating more time for it later. It's a net loss.

      In Las Vegas fat or lazy people can rent sit-n-go scooters to cart them around the casino because walking would be too much effort. And at that point, you're doing less work than someone standing and only slightly more work than someone sitting in a chair. It's popular because it's cheap, and people have absolutely no shame in using them if they're just lazy.

      Yes, but it's sit-n-go. At least it's more comfortable than walking, if you're tired or lazy, whereas standing isn't. Do you understand that point? It doesn't even have that saving grace.

      And interesting theory that there are deep psychological issues but way off the mark. They just cost too much. If they were $500 everyone would have one.

      Or maybe the only ones with deep psychological problems are the twits who need to project them on everyone who isn't awed by their conspicuous consumption.

      In fact, I suspect that if segways did cost only 500, they'd actually lose sales, because then those twits would need something else to say, "look at what I can afford."

      • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GlenRaphael (8539) on Monday August 03, 2009 @07:26AM (#28925507) Homepage
        It doesn't really go any faster than I can walk

        Actually it does, really, go quite a lot faster than you can walk. Unless you can walk over 12 mph, which I rather doubt. But your impression it doesn't does reveal another possible reason people scoff at it. In trying to make it a mass market device, they bent over backwards to make it safe. The segway is, quite frankly, too safe. Too few people have hurt themselves by using one. The multiple keys and speed limiters make it inconvenient to go fast; removing any element of skill in staying upright makes it hard to swerve out of control. So unlike with a motorcycle or a skateboard - two forms of transport it might otherwise seem to resemble - there's no illicit flirting-with-danger cachet. A segway rider isn't risking death and isn't demonstrating skill because the machine won't let you go faster than can be easily stabilized.

        Riding a segway is like riding a tricycle slowly wearing a huge helmet, full pad, and full yellow reflectors. Who needs to be *that* safe?

        So I recommend they design an "extreme" version of the segway with different styling which includes an "overdrive" gear with no speed limiter so you can drive fast enough that it actually takes skill not to die. Or perhaps let people know how to *hack* their segways to get rid of the speed limiter. Once a few thrill-seekers have died from going over 100mph on a segway and crashing into a tree, it might start to seem a little cool.

  • by heitikender (655816) * on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:14AM (#28924433) Homepage
    Obviously, author has never ridden a motorcycle - he has absolutely no idea, what it takes to ride such thing. On motorcycle, you have a throttle, first brake, rear brake, 6 gears and clutch. To ride it, you have to (ok, don't have to but would be good) understand counter-steering. And on IT? lean yourself and twist the stick. That's all. Pfffff.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:31AM (#28924547)

      Slow speed turns. Bumps, pot holes, debris, ruts, grates, gravel, wet manhole covers and paint stripes. Avoiding FUCKING SUVS. Visual direction control. Lean angles, peg weighting, body english, counter-steer. Decreasing radius turns.

      Balancing a one-in-front-of-the-other 2 wheeled vehicle traveling at over 70mph through rain, crosswinds and traffic without killing yourself isn't exactly *easy*. It's not really anything like a Segway, and I'm quite angered by this authors belittlement of something that I've spent a very large part of my life learning how to do well. I bet you half of the Segway riders can't even operate a clutch in the first place. He obviously has absolutely no fucking clue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      Perhaps, but I haven't ridden a motorbike either. I have no idea what the complexities are, yet would still give more respect for a motorcyclist than a segway user.

      But I think my answer is the inability to perceive the utility of the thing. A motorcycle has speed. Even a very low powered scooter can do 30mph. The idea that people want to get from place to place considerably more quickly means I can see why you want one.

      A 12.5mph Segway just doesn't seem fast enough to justify the cost. It gives
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Thumper_SVX (239525)

      Seconded. Plus, a spirited ride on your average sportbike (which, incidentally most of them weigh north of 400lbs these days) can actually give you a pretty decent upper-body workout from the leaning, control and the constant movement in it.

      It's funny... there's this attitude that riding a motorcycle is easy but it's coming from people who've never actually ridden one. I ride one most days during the year, even down to a few degrees above freezing (or sometimes below if there's no ice on the road) and love

  • "IT"? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Shin-LaC (1333529) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:14AM (#28924439)
    What does this have to do with information technology?
  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:23AM (#28924495) Homepage
    For those who remember the marketing for the Segway, Segway was going to revolutionize human transport. There was even a cloud of secrecy around it, and for months nobody would even tell what this mistery product was.

    The hype was just mind boggling and there is no way Segway wil ever come close to match all the promises that were made.

    The Segway "FAIL" is just another example of the dangers of overhyping a product before it gets to the market.

  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:23AM (#28924497)

    and sometimes cyclists and even bikers... I have the same problem with all of them: I usually walk because I'm in no rush and i want to (daydream) think deeply about life, the universe, and everything. These guys rush by on MY walkway, stirring me out of my reverie at least, sometimes forcing me to jump out of the way.

    They are to walkways what SUVs are to streets.

    • by value_added (719364) on Monday August 03, 2009 @05:26AM (#28924829)

      I think anyone who owns a dog or who has taken their kids out for a stroll in a carriage can relate to what you wrote.

      The problem, I think, with rollerbladers and skaters is one of scale. If you're a normally functioning biped going about your business, someone travelling at speeds highly disproportionate to your own (or making a helluva lot more noise than you make as skateboarders do) can only be characterised (from your perspective) as somewhere between a danger and a threat.

      Cars even more so. Walking your dog or and having cars drive by at 25-30 mph can be acceptable if there's a barrier, or enough distance separating you. Someone speeding by at 35-45 mph, on the other hand, will most likely elicit an extreme reaction from you. The guy in the car, of course, doesn't care and doesn't notice as he considers himself perfectly safe from you.

      Segways typically don't speed, and they don't make a lot of noise, but they certainly share much in common with what we perceive as threats: something bigger than we are and something which is capable of moving faster than we move. Practically speaking that means they don't belong on the sidewalk, or anywhere people gather or walk normally. And because a slow-moving object on a roadway is also a threat, they certainly don't belong there. That essentially leaves them with nowhere that's appropriate.

      Doesn't help that we tend to view mechanical devices generally with suspicion, and Segway owners specifically as oddballs. That's not to say that Segways themselves aren't interesting.

    • by zippthorne (748122) on Monday August 03, 2009 @07:12AM (#28925379) Journal

      Well the real issue is poor urban planning. There should be grade separated lanes for pedestrians, human powered vehicles, and motorized vehicles. You can't ride a bicycle on a busy street OR the sidewalk next to it safely (and possibly legally), but that's a piss poor reason to have to drive to work if you're within biking distance.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
        There should be grade separated lanes for pedestrians, human powered vehicles, and motorized vehicles.

        Unfortunately, to get anywhere, those 3 lanes have to cross. Repeatedly. And interserctions are where most incidents occur.
        How does the grade separation handle a cyclist going straight through, and a right turning motor vehicle?
  • I don't hate it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JanneM (7445) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:23AM (#28924499) Homepage

    I don't hate it. I just don't see the point. It seems to try to fill a convenience gap somewhere between walking on one end and bicycles or scooters on the other. At least for me there's simply no gap there to fill.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The main reason I see that people dislike Segways is that on crowded streets, operators of Segways try to use the fact they are on a motorized vehicle and at a taller vantage point in order to force people out of their way. Its similar to being on a bike and bumping a pedestrian with the front tire so they see something bigger than themselves, which prompts an instant reflex of getting out of the way.

    This is the exact same reason mounted police are excellent at crowd control, people tend to move out of the

  • by Rix (54095) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:27AM (#28924523)

    People shout abuse for that, too.

    The Segway is a wheelchair for people who's only disability is extreme laziness. No wonder Americans are so goddamn fat.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tygerstripes (832644)
      Parking is like sex. All the good slots are taken so occasionally, if nobody's looking, you stick it in a disabled one.
  • It's the law (Score:4, Informative)

    by FranTaylor (164577) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:36AM (#28924579)

    You can't use a motorized vehicle on the sidewalk in most places.

    You're out of your mind if you drive one in the street.

    So where exactly are you supposed to ride them?

    Indoors in a crowded place it's just an accident waiting to happen.

    As a practical matter they are just toys for the few who can afford them.

  • by davmoo (63521) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:51AM (#28924663)

    My dislike of the Segway stems from the ridiculous hype that was spread far and wide about the product before it actually came out. It was built up to be some fantastic device that would cure the common cold, end world hunger, prove the existence of life on Mars, get me the woman of my dreams, and just about anything else one could imagine. Then when it came out, it was nothing but a fancy-ass moped for rich people who were too lazy to walk.

  • by enrevanche (953125) * on Monday August 03, 2009 @05:57AM (#28924999)

    Because they were designed for use among pedestrians. When you are on foot you do not want these things anywhere near you. They are obnoxious and dangerous to a pedestrian.

    They do not belong on the sidewalk and you would be an idiot to use them on the road. For them to ever become popular, cities would need a redesign.

    They cannot be easily moved up or down stairs, they are not acceptable on an elevator unless it is a freight elevator, they are difficult to get in or out of a car, they cannot be brought on public transportation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lord Bitman (95493)

      Well, that's what they said, isn't it? "These will change the way cities are designed"

      I didn't notice too many people translating this properly to: "these are broken."

  • by Lazy Jones (8403) on Monday August 03, 2009 @05:59AM (#28925009) Homepage Journal
    ... you look lazy and/or like you have no confidence in your own 2 legs, which can carry you at a much higher maximum speed (than 12.5 mph) if you are an individual of average build/health.

    I don't know why they let cops who can't seem to run faster than 12.5 mph out on the streets at all.

  • It looks stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

    by supercrisp (936036) on Monday August 03, 2009 @06:49AM (#28925245)

    I read the posts and the article, and I can't believe no one else understands the "hate." People on Segways look like idiots. You're perched up high with a dorky bicycle helmet where everyone can see you. You look sort of like Rick Moranis in Spaceballs.

    I had NEVER thought about Segways much until a recent trip to Vienna. Sure, I'd seen that photo of the Chinese riot cops on Segways or Sameways or whatever, and my reaction was, hmm, that makes sense. But in Vienna people were renting Segways to tool around the city. You could see them in the distance, tall dorky mushroomy touristy goobuses. Maybe it was the backdrop of florid Art Deco/Historicist architecture or the way everyone was nicely dressed.

    Appearances alone. That's enough to inspire the so-called "hate." It's clear that the article's author doesn't get anything about style when he compares the Segway to a motorcyle. Let me set this straight: Marlon Brando on motorcyle, cool; Wozniak on a Segway, not cool. The problem is nerds have a messed-up idea of cool, or at least one not shared by the population at large. Aesthetics matters. I'm not saying this is perfect or right; it just is. And the general population has some dumb aesthetics. But appearances still matter.

  • It's Ugly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JSmooth (325583) on Monday August 03, 2009 @06:53AM (#28925271)

    It just doesn't look natural. Time and again scientists, engineers or artists design a more efficient process or item and yet it never penetrates beyond a small group of fanatics. The segway just looks awkward. For comparison consider the Pontiac Aztec (generally considered to be the ugliest car of the last 25 years) It could be practical, have tons of space, and it is still ugly. Same reason we are not all living in geodesic (sp?) domes.

    Function over form rarely works and without a sudden artistic shift to the accepted (think Sideburns or bellbottoms) I doubt IT will ever win a wider audience.

  • Oversold. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by seebs (15766) on Monday August 03, 2009 @07:42AM (#28925653) Homepage

    It was the "It will change the way cities are built" that pretty much did it. They didn't come CLOSE to delivering on that. Tons of hype, hugely oversold, and really, it's only good for a few specialized uses. Great for those, but so what?

  • It looks stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Snaller (147050) on Monday August 03, 2009 @07:58AM (#28925785) Journal

    That's it. Not that hard is it. It looks stupid - if I were on it I would look even more stupid than I already do. Never in a million years - take your junk and recycle it.

  • Bubble Burst Hate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Baldrson (78598) * on Monday August 03, 2009 @09:15AM (#28926883) Homepage Journal
    Maybe ya'll forgot but the Segway was trotted out as "the next big thing" right when the Dot-Con bubble burst.
  • by lewp (95638) on Monday August 03, 2009 @09:59AM (#28927529) Journal

    "This is the same reason why people don't like Lisp hackers." Thus, it becomes a real Paul Graham article.

  • And cars? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by otter42 (190544) on Monday August 03, 2009 @09:59AM (#28927537) Homepage Journal

    I see lots of posts saying that the reason people don't like the Segway is because they're "like wheelchairs for people too lazy to walk."

    So what does that make cars, then?

  • by pRtkL xLr8r (1264376) on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:00AM (#28927545)
    The guy with a Mac sitting at Starbucks blogging about his new car. The dude at the bar with a bluetooth headset in his ear while he's not even on the phone. They guy tooling down the street with a Segway to get to the Apple store for the new iPhone. They all fit into the category of 'look at me, I'm important, please take notice of this so I can feel better about myself.'

    The kid with the netbook directly jacking into the school server to change his grades. The Navy Seal with the headset and mic relaying position information. They dude on the skateboard doing an ollie over some trash while trying to get to work on time. They're all doing something functional, and look pretty damn cool doing it.
  • Wrong comparison. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fafaforza (248976) on Monday August 03, 2009 @10:04AM (#28927593)

    Shouldn't he be comparing a Segway to a car, rather than motorcycle, if you'll even make such a lame comparison?

    If anything, it is the car where you sit in one position and place, and the extent of your work is pressing one of two levers. On a bike, you're doing something with both your feet (gear lever and rear brake) and multiple tasks with each hand, while changing your body position for turns and road hazards.

    And comparing it to any motorized vehicle that travels at 50mph is plain dumb as you can't commute to work 10 miles away on a Segway, travel on public roads, or go on a 200 mile day trip. It's supposed to replace walking, and that's what people might take issue with: that a Segway rider finds walking too arduous.

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