Close encounters of the Segway kind

Has the Segway revolutionized transportation in your neck of the woods yet? Have you ever even seen one?

Up until yesterday, the only time I saw one was by a cop somewhere I traveled to on business. Atlanta maybe?

Yesterday while completing my noontime run, I ran into a group of about 6 of them on the downtown Chicago sidewalks. N side of Adams just east of State at 12:30 to be exact. I had read that one of the local colleges was going to have a course where students would be trying to come up with uses for the things.

Well, I don’t think they have to do too many more trials to figure out that getting around in downtown Chicago during heavy traffic times is not among their uses. Those things are actually relatively large compared to a pedestrian. Tho compact, the wheels make a person’s width wider than they are alone. Moreover, it does not have the flexibility of twisting or sidling - it takes up its full width all the time. And the users appear quite tall standing up there. IMO they are no less intrusive on a busy sidewalk than a bike. The six folk had to travel in a line, maneuvering around pedestrians, and getting into a stop-and-go queue at curb-cuts. As a result, they were moving slower than pedestrians.

Have you seen anyone using a Segway in a manner/setting that seemed sensible?

Are these things going to become more common, or will they simply fade away?

The school I teach at has a dozen of them for Campus safety. I was consulted on the grant to get them so let me tell you some of the good and bad things I had to learn…

Speed: there are different levels of speed. As a beginner one can only go 6mph whilst getting used to it. After a brief course you can up it to Max open space setting to a whopping 12.5mph.

Steering: very easy, it’s on your left handle. rotate handle to turn various directions.

Yes I have used one, they are faster than they look. Easier to control than they appear, and stop very quickly, and right as you think your going to fall on your face, You don’t! Very fun.

You didn’t list any bad things, Phil. And shouldn’t you be in class?

Something like campus security strikes me as one of the few sensible uses. Where someone is covering considerable ground, with lots of walkways and paths - basically patrolling. Maybe meter maids as well. Or maybe for supervision/travel inside of large warehouses/factories/etc. But in most cases I’m not sure why they would be an improvement over the much cheaper and (arguably) more versatile bike or foot.

Who footed the grant for you guys to get them? How are they used, and what is the feedback? Also, how useful will they be in winter?

I think I have seen them with some sort of saddlebags - not sure how much they can hold.

As I see it, their problem is that they are too big and fast for the sidewalk, and too small and slow for the road.

I see them around Atlanta. Some of the cops have one, and whatever group it is that hangs around helping out lost people (they have uniforms and stuff, I have no idea what they’re called) and such also have 'em.

An unnamed philantropic organization* in Connecticut. And yes I forgot to add the con’s…I’m getting ready for the weekend.

The con’s lay in the weather, stairs, grass and rough ground. Snow is a no-no. However, rain is no big deal. We have the front saddle bags on all of ours.

[BTW, I’m at school, but classes don’t start till the 3rd. My office is all ready though. And lot’s of last years students are stopping by to say hello]

They are used for campus safety officers and students working for CS. Basically they patrol around and keep the peace. They are great for commencement in hot, humid May, and they generate a lot of spectators. Students from last year will be used to seeing them, but I’ve seen a lot of pointing fingers and such from freshmen coming in. CS officers are not allowed to let just anyone hop on them, it was a condition of the Grant that they be used by trained personnel. Each is insured for theft [ wouldn’t get very far as they have lo-jack type systems on them] and any mechanical problems are fully warranted for life.

They have our mascot on the sides and are quite fun to tool around in…

  • Non-disclosure publicly of the name of the Philanthropic Org was a condition of the grant as well. It’s not uncommon. Email me for more info if needed.

I likes me more horsepower! Maybe a YSR with an RZ 350 engine stuck in it!

How is Rap like Porn? Both are better with the sound turned off.

I’m probably not supposed to say this, but I saw a few employees on them when I was in the Secret Place at Disney World (some sort of backstage-type area; they wouldn’t let us take pictures in there, and characters went there to take off their heads) in April on a band trip (we marched in Magic Kingdom; that’s how we got to be in the Secret Place.)

If that was some big Disney secret, I’m terribly sorry.

I’ve seen employees at Disney Land and World using them as well.

Quick Hijack: Anyways, ErinPuff, I’m interested in the “secret area” you describe (I’m guessing it’s the underground facilities where Magic Kingdom is run from). What did it look like down there?

I live in downtown Seattle and I see meter maids using them occasionally. They don’t even have to get off them as they remove the coins from the meters.

It sure looks funny when they’re not on it, but it’s still running, in idle. It sways back and forth, like a unicyclist. Funny!

i’ve seen the average guy on the streets of phila. he was segging about on chestnut street. quite a few people gawked and pointed.

The Atlanta guys are the “Ambassador Force” … basically, they’re (city) government employees beholden to various downtown landlords that pay off part of their budget. They’re also one of the biggest customers for Segways - I’ve almost never seen one in the wild, but you can see them in downtown Atlanta almost every day. The best part of this is that they have the gigantic SUV-style Segways, which are actually quite impressive to behold.

The “Ambassador Force”? I never knew their name, but yea, all over downtown. Very cool idea and they’re pretty helpful. And just watching the Segways roll by is great.

College campuses for workers were the obvious use. I’ve said since day one that I thought they were a ridiculous idea for general transportation, but that they’d find some niches in large factories, facilities like lumber yards, perhaps for employees in big-box retailers like Home Depot, etc.

I thought they might be useful for mail carriers, but here’s where the devil in the details can bite you in the ass - it turns out letter carriers hate them, for a very simple reason: they sort their mail while they walk. So the faster speed of the Segway doesn’t help them at all, beccause now they zoom up to the house, then they have to stop and sort the mail anyway.

And they are far too dangerous to go into widespread use on sidewalks.

I’ve seen one here in DC. Well, I saw it a few days in a row but it was the same guy. I agree. They’re much too big to be on a sidewalk, especially during rush hour when it’s crowded.

Just drive the fucker on the street. Trucks/cars=bigger…

Hey I think I will jump in front of a segway if I get the chance.
segways cost money= good lawsuit!
Think I am heading to the lake today…

Not the world changing transportation device it was hyped up to be.
Just this week the ‘perpetrator’ of the device was on CBS’s 60 Minutes program hyping the engine originall supposed to power the Segway for his IBot stair climbing wheel chair.
My prediction: “It aint gonna happen.”
The engine did not have enough power for the Segway and the IBot requires even more to climb stairs.

The Segway is a marvel of technical ingenuity but not the universal transportation solution!

Duderdude2, it was just a sort of parking lot, I think, but the employees were fiercely protective of it. We weren’t in there for very long; I don’t remember quite what it looked like. I do know it was above ground, though.

Not at home, but at Epcot two cast members nearly knocked me over while they were riding them. It was my fault, not theirs, and very funny.