Sunday, January 27, 2008

Segway use in non-urban areas?

A post on National Parks Traveler discussed the possible use of Segway personal transporters in National Parks. I've never been to the parks in question (Sequoia and Yosemite) and don't know enough about them to know if Segways could be integrated to reduce traffic or have other benefits. I started thinking about use of Segways in the Yellowstone, the park I'm most familiar with and probably more similar to the CA parks than Mt. Ranier or Olympic. I'm not impressed with the idea, people with mobility problems probably are better off with wheelchairs or scooters. I doubt it would reduce traffic on the roads, just add congestion. On the other hand, the image of a group of Segway riders moving through a bison herd is interesting, although no worse than bicyclists who do ride through the park. I would dislike Segways being able to use the bike trails and boardwalks, the latter are often crowded and don't need vehicles moving faster than a walking pace.

I've only seen a few Segways in use, they aren't common in the Seattle area. I went to the Segway site and noticed they have a couple of models for off pavement use. Initially I thought it would be fun to use one of these, not on real trails of course but exploring out of the way areas using less gas or getting to a trailhead. Also, health problems have limited my ability to hike in the last couple of years. Then I noticed the very limited range of up to 12 miles. This isn't far enough to get me to a trailhead or make a significant difference in gas usage most of the time. I wonder who is the intended consumer for these Segways? Yes, I would rather share trails with Segways rather than extremely loud trail motorcycles or ATVs but I can't see a Segway being particularly useful for off pavement.


At 27/1/08 16:55, Blogger subwayseries said...

"I'm not impressed with the idea, people with mobility problems probably are better off with wheelchairs or scooters."

Sorry, that's just not correct. Scooters are vehicles, which are dangerous if on any pedesrtian way. Plus a significant number of disabled people cannot even ride a scooter. The US Department of Transportation's studies show that a Segway can be as safe as a manual wheelchair.

"I doubt it would reduce traffic on the roads, just add congestion. "

Also not true. Segways were invented to reduce congestion on roads. Everytime someone is on a Segway instead of a car, you take a car out of traffic. A Segway's footprint is the same as a human being walking. Cars take up a lot more space.

"Then I noticed the very limited range of up to 12 miles".

Only the early first generation Segways with Nickel Cadmium Batteries had a 12 mile range. Segways now have Lithium Ion Batteries like your cell phone and have a range of about twenty-four miles.

"I wonder who is the intended consumer for these Segways?"

Segways were originally designed for trips less than 12 miles where you would take a car. Many people who are disabled have also enjoyed the Segway on trails where they can see the view like a person walking, instead of using a motorized wheelchair.

Primarily, Segways were intended to replace single rider car trips. I commute 8 miles by Segway where a bike couldn't go. It keeps my car off the road, out of the garage, and out of the gas station 5 days a week. Why do I need to bring and store a 2000 lb steel vehicle with me everyday just to go to work?

Segways aren't supposed to take all the cars off the road, just enough to make a difference. Only a tiny percentage of Segways replacing cars wouldn't eliminate traffic, but would eliminate traffic jams, parking unavailability, and oil dependence.

They cost about 18 cents in electricity for a 24 mile charge, and battery replacement is about $1200 every 5-7 years.

Many people try to imagine what a Segway is, but until you try one, you just don't know. $200 million was spent to develop a pedestrian device that was as small as a person, quiet, clean, cheap to run, and as safe as a person walking. $200 million

It's NOT a scooter.

Try one. :)

At 28/1/08 16:41, Blogger feralhiker said...

My comments were specific to areas in or near backcountry, not urban areas. The traffic comment was specific to Yellowstone and other national parks. I very much doubt most people would use a Segway to travel in Yellowstone, distances are too great and did you miss the bison herd reference?

When talking about range, I was referring to the off road model which the Segway web page still lists as having a 12 mile range. I still cannot see a use for a Segway in or near backcountry areas.


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