Seg(no)way

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Apparently New York City is contemplating a ban on gas-powered motor scooters that will also sweep up in its overreach the last hope for civilization in the 21st century, the Segway scooter. There's a petition to get the city council to reconsider; my favorite detail from it is that there are, nearly three years after the unveiling of this world-shaking device, fewer than 150 of them rolling through our greatest city. My earlier take for Reason Online on the underwhelming reality of the Segway, and speculations as to its ideological underpinnings, here.

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  1. Now is the time to ban them BEFORE they become a problem! If only we had known the environmental and social havoc of the automobile, we could have saved the world from it, too..

  2. What’s the use of a screwball petition if you can’t sign a sophomoric name? I tried I.P. Daily and Mike Hunt, and both were already taken! Jeez, now I am offended.

  3. I hope that some day we look back on all the tut-tuting of the Segway in the same way we look back at folks who said the horseless carriage would never amount to anything. It?s certainly a contraption ahead of its time. Contraption being the key word.

    Incidentally, I might consider buying one if they were in the same price range as a good city bicycle ($300-$600 bucks.) But, I live in a building with an elevator and bicycle storage so parking it securely wouldn?t be that hard. However, it?s completely possible that I may sometime in the next few years go back to living in a walk-up? in which case having an expensive, heavy piece of equipment to carry home every night wouldn?t be feasible. One of Segway?s problems that it can?t one-up a simple bicycle.

    Unfortunately, it also has a certain geekism about it? that would cause me to think twice before buying one, even at a greatly reduced price.

    It?s the pocket-protector of personal transportation.

  4. There’s no need to ban the Segway, for the same reason there’s no need to ban the skycar . But this has got more to do with the fact that everything in NYC is regulated. The city uses the law as muscle in its shakedown rackets that keep the corrupt in power.

  5. I’ve seen them in Paris and on the Cote d’Azur. In the hands of less than nimble drivers, they tend to plow over small dogs and the elderly.

  6. Too bad, everytime I see (and hear) one of those gas-powered bikes or scooters, or a Segway, which is like once a month, it puts a smile on my face. And I consider my smiles a more endangered species than small dogs and the elderly, which are everywhere, choking up the sidewalks of Manhattan.

  7. Give Kamen a bit of a break here. The Segway was a direct descendent of his incredible wheel chair…ummm…mobility system, the IBot.

    http://www.dekaresearch.com/ibot.html

  8. Segways died the day the weasely character GOB, from the sitcom Arrested Development, started tooling around in one.

    Now the meme is Segway = you’re a tool.

  9. the segway is the most over hyped thing since pointcast. how lazy are people that they can’t just walk anymore? you can’t be super lazy, though, cuz this thing requires you to stand up the whole time. it only goes 12mph. and most of all, it costs $8k. only an idiot or a rich person would drop $8k on this useless thing. just buy a god damn bicycle.

  10. albo,

    Niles from “Frasier” showed up on one, too.

    “Come on and take a dork ride.”

  11. Rural Ohio has John Deere lawn tractors, used by the elderly to get to the store. You can sit on them, and they wait outside unmolested. They’d work in NYC for a few weeks until they regulated them.

  12. Hmmm…lawn tractors, sleeping homeless people…
    That WOULD work in NYC!

  13. Wasn’t the US Postal Service going to buy a bunch of them?

    And big shout outs to the Arrested Development reference. It’s a great show and I advise you to all watch it so it isn’t prematurely taken off the air.

  14. Screw the Segway! Bring back the Postal Buddy!

  15. Their introduction seemed to emphasize their use in urban areas, but for regular people, they seem more useful in sunbelt suburbs (that’s to say, the sunbelt :-)), since in a real city, you can do everything a pedestrian would want to do within normal walking distance.

    If you live in an urban neighborhood, you have to walk 1-5 blocks to get to the commercial street, and then maybe a block or two in either direction to get to the cleaner’s, Thai take out place, or video rental shop – no problem. If you live in a suburb, you have to walk 1/2 – 3 miles to get to those places. So the best use (besides specialized tasks like mail deliveray and warehouse use) seems to be that they allow people in suburbs to have the convenience experienced by urban pedestrians.

    Which, frankly, probably isn’t worth 8 grand. People who can afford one can afford a car, and people who can’t afford a car can’t afford a Segway either. Though I suppose the price is bound to come down if sales volume increases.

  16. “you can’t be super lazy, though, cuz this thing requires you to stand up the whole time.”

    Ha! No doubt. Where is the Super Recliner Edition?

  17. JB sez:

    “In the hands of less than nimble drivers, they tend to plow over small dogs and the elderly.”

    Now, I’m interested. I’m not a nimble driver–where can I get one?

  18. “I hope that some day we look back on all the tut-tuting of the Segway in the same way we look back at folks who said the horseless carriage would never amount to anything. It?s certainly a contraption ahead of its time.”

    That’s what they said about the Sinclair C-5. Look what happened to that.

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