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Unread 07-24-2002, 01:58 AM
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L.A. Times Article

This article appeared in today's paper. It's not available online yet, so I scanned it. (Any typos aren't necessarily the Times's fault.) Maybe it'll be available online tomorrow.

Sidewalk Spat Shaping Up Over Vehicle
•The Segway has a top speed of 12.5 mph. Critics see a danger to pedestrians, but it seems on fast track to approval.
By HUGO MARTIN
TIMES STAFF WRITER

It has two wheels and a handlebar, but don’t call it a scooter.
It is propelled by an electric motor, but don’t confuse it with a golf cart.
The much-ballyhooed Segway human transporter is a self-balancing, motorized conveyance that is unique in the world of transportation; But marketing concerns are only part of the reason why the manufacturer is particular about what to call it.
Seaway LLC of New Hampshire doesn’t want you to confuse its invention with a scooter or an electric cart because such vehicles are prohibited from public sidewalks in most states. In fact, the only motorized vehicles allowed on sidewalks in California are wheelchairs and carts used by the disabled.
Segway hopes to change that. The firm has sponsored legislation in Sacramento to rewrite the definition of a pedestrian to include people using the Segway transporter, thus allowing the device to roll on all public sidewalks in the state.
The state Senate already has approved the bill, and a final vote in the Assembly is expected next month. Similar legislation sponsored by Segway in 30 other states has already been adopted.
But many pedestrian activists and advocates for the blind don’t count themselves among the bill’s supporters. They worry that the 65-pound transporter, with a top cruising speed of 12.5 mph, will endanger senior citizens, children and other pedestrians when it goes, on the market sometime next year.
“That could kill somebody,” said Deborah Murphy, founder of L.A. Walks, a pedestrian advocacy group in Los Angeles.
In addition to the concerns over pedestrian safety, the Segway transporter has also raised questions about who or what should have access to public sidewalks.
Created by inventor Dean Kamen, the Segway looks like a push-style lawnmower. But it is equipped with 10 computers and five gyroscopes to keep a single rider balanced on two side-by-side wheels.
It has no brakes or accelerator. A rider, standing on the transporter platform, simply shifts forward and silently glides ahead.
The transporter has already made appearances on NBC’s “Tonight Show” and ABC’s “Good Morning America” and at Disnsy World’s Epcot Center. It is in use by the U.S. Postal Service, the National Park Service and at several law enforcement agencies nationwide.
It is expected to go on sale to the public next year, with a price tag starting at about $3,000.
Senate Bill 1918 would allow an “electric assistive mobility device” with the Segway’s specifications on all sidewalks; without requiring the rider to have a license or a helmet. If the bill is adopted, cities can impose limits on the time and place where the devices are used.
The biggest concern for critics is that the machine can operate at three to four times the speed of an average pedestrian. At that velocity, critics say, the Segway should be relegated to bike lanes or the street.
Catherine Skivers, president of the California Council for the Blind, is concerned that the device could be dangerous to visually impaired pedestrians who won’t hear the near-silent electric transporter approaching.
Segway officials say the transporter is too small and slow for streets. Besides, they say, the device has been thoroughly tested, and it continues to be evaluated by government agencies throughout the country.
But the testing has not been without a few bumps. In May, a member of a business district patrol unit in Atlanta toppled from a Segway going up a driveway onto a sidewalk, injuring his knee. Segway officials point out that— as is the case with bicycles; scooters and skateboards—the rider is ultimately responsible for operating the device safely.
“Technology does not replace common sense,” said Matt Dailida, manager of state government affairs for Segway.
But some critics say that even when properly used, the machine can be dangerous in an innocent mishap.
David Lawrence, director of the Center for Injury Prevention Policy and Practice at San Diego State University, said a collision between pedestrians is usually harmless. But, he asked, what happens if one of those pedestrians is on a Segway?
“If someone bumps into a Segway operator, that same temporary loss of balance could send a speeding vehicle careening into people walking nearby,” Lawrence said.
Dailida said the transporter— when traveling at 9 mph—takes about four feet to stop. And if a rider falls off, it stops automatically, he added.
But accidents are inevitable, and. a Washington, D.C., law firm is already preparing to take advantage of that fact. The firm called USA Immigration Law Center, has announced that it is preparing to specialize in Segway injury cases.
“We believe that the Segway HT [human transporter] is a legal nightmare and will be the basis for many lawsuits, both from the corporate and consumer side,” the law firm says on its Web site.
Dailida said he had not heard of the firm but added: “It’s very premature for any group like that to prepare for legal suits against our company.”
In Los Angeles County, liability issues have prompted officials at the Metropolitan Transportation authority to reconsider using the Segway transporter in a pilot proj-ect intended to promote alternative transportation around transit cen-ters. The project, which was scheduled to start in April, is on hold pending further study.
But such setbacks have not discouraged Segway, which invested $100 million in creating the human transporter. The company also spent $49,000 on a Sacramento lobbying firm to push the legislation submitted by Sen. Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch).
Michael Smith of Walk San Francisco, a Bay Area pedestrian advocacy group, sug-gested that Segway had used its money and influence to get the Senate to vote 30 to 1 in support of the bill.
“Our sidewalks are not for sale,” he said.
Torlakson said he has taken no contributions from Segway but championed the legislation because he is interested in promoting alternative transportation. “It’s an incredible invention,” he said. “Let’s give it a chance.”
Besides the safety concerns, critics wonder whether the Segway transporter is needed. Given the problems America has with obesity and diabetes, they ask why more people don’t use old-fashioned foot power to get around.
Said Smith: “What the Segway would do is automate one of the oldest forms of exercise: walking.”
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Last edited by Greg Ross : 07-24-2002 at 02:04 AM.
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Unread 07-24-2002, 11:01 AM
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that is a really interesting article and they mention that it if in a collision would hurt somebody what if someone was jogging and hit a person or someone on a bicycle hit someone it would cause injury to. and just like a bike the rider falls it stops and so does a segway

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Unread 07-24-2002, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jk2005
that is a really interesting article and they mention that it if in a collision would hurtr somebody what if someone was jogging and hit a person or someone on a bicycle hit someone it would cause injury to. and just like a bike the rider falls it stops and so does a segway
What would happen if a person fell of thier segway on a hill? Does the segway know th difference between a person leaning and gravity making it lean? If it keeps moving it could hit cars, pets, little children, racoons, chipmunks, or even run over a worm! All of those would be messy! I think most people driving these things though will be safe, and most won't go as fast as they can as it kills the battery faster
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Unread 07-24-2002, 12:11 PM
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What if the Segway rider was hit, or lost his balance and leaned over, zooooom!, off the Segway goes at full speed.
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Unread 07-24-2002, 12:23 PM
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Originally posted by Trashed20

What would happen if a person fell of thier segway on a hill?
I thought the whole point of a Segway is that you can't fall off.
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Unread 07-24-2002, 12:51 PM
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I thought the whole point of a Segway is that you can't fall off.

the whole point of segway is that it wont tip not that you cant fall off if you lose your balance you could fall off backwards
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Unread 07-24-2002, 01:44 PM
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at disney, i asked the lady riding the segway in epcot why she had a helmet/kneepads/etc. i said, isn't the whole point of segway so that it balances it self, and as long as you know what you're doing, it's impossible to fall off?

she stood there for a moment, said a really long "uh" and then told me that it's disney policy to be as safe as possible all the time. :/ oh well, made for a good laugh, and the disney gestapo isn't after me yet .
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Unread 07-24-2002, 02:20 PM
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Originally posted by Ian W.
....and the disney gestapo isn't after me yet .
What is up with this Disnet gestapo stuff? I'm guessing it's an inside joke but please enlighten me
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Unread 07-24-2002, 03:10 PM
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I don't see too many problems with Segways on streets. At IRI, there was a guy with a Segway, and my team got to see it up close Friday night. We saw it stand up on its own, and at one point, he came rolling at me really fast and stopped right in front of me. I think it handles well, and shouldn't be a danger to pedestrians, provided the operator knows what he or she is doing.
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Unread 07-24-2002, 04:25 PM
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The above person is correct. As I work at the FIRST Summer Camps, we have a segway demo every week and most of the questions you are all asking are really common, and there is an answer for all of em. It is a very safe and reliable type of transportation. If u get off it, it will go forward for about 10 seconds, then gives a handle shake (the handle shakes, if u couldn't guess), and then shuts itself down. If it does hit a person, it pushes the handle bars back just like u would if you where on it and thus stopping it. Also, you could put your hand or foot on the ground and get it run over by the Segway and it wouldn't even hurt, I learned that first hand (no punn intended).
Hope that helps

-Matt
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Unread 07-24-2002, 04:59 PM
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I have a segway site and I have ridden one. It is very realyable.

Also MattM, how did you get into the FIRST Summer Camps? That sounds neat and did you get to ride it?
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Unread 07-24-2002, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Trashed20


What would happen if a person fell of thier segway on a hill? Does the segway know th difference between a person leaning and gravity making it lean?
Actually, there is a sensor in the platform that detects a person's weight...if there is not a person detected on the platform, that's when it goes into shutdown mode(as is my understanding at least...)
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Unread 07-24-2002, 05:06 PM
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My dad works one floor below Segway and he asked around to see if I could get a job. Apparently he talked to the right people and they offered a job across the street at FIRST Place (where the summer camps are held). I got really lucky though, I'm one of the 2 councilers that are paid and the rest are volunteers. My dad asked me if i wanted to go to New Hampshire with him to work there and I was reluctant because I heard that New Hampshie is basicly farm land. But in the end i decided to go and there I am. And I'm very happy

Its funny you should ask that question. I was just informed today, after the camp, that they set up a ride for all of the councilers tomorrow at the Segway test facility. Fun fun!
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Unread 07-24-2002, 07:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Trashed20


What is up with this Disnet gestapo stuff? I'm guessing it's an inside joke but please enlighten me
ok, disney gestapo, somewhat of an inside joke, but i'll explain...

me and my groupies (yes, all the cool nerds on the team ), decided to go to the star wars ride. so, we're on it, and goign through the comet field, the sound shuts down, and the ride suddenly breaks. so, we're sitting there in this hot room, stuck in the seats (darned seat belts). so, my friend whips out his video camera, and starts shooting footage of us joking around and making fun of the ride for breaking. so, less than 30 seconds after he took out the camera, we hear a voice from the gods... it said put the camera away or else (well, not quite that harsh). so, we figured the disney gestapo was on to us, for getting footage that disney rides do in fact break down. so, we have been making jokes about that ever since, a few of them on CD . so now you all know the story behind the disney gestapo, and we all know that unless you want them after you, DON'T VIDEO TAPE BROKEN RIDES!!!

back to segway...

so, if i was riding a segway, and crashed into someone, it would stop because the handle bars are pushed up? that's actually a pretty cool idea to avoid accidents.
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Unread 07-24-2002, 08:52 PM
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90% of the time Disney dosn't give a rats arse if you tape, but if it is outside properties (Star Wars, Millionaire, Muppets, just to name a few, though they were close to buying out Muppets, but that's another story for another time ). So the lesson is

DON'T TAKE PHOTO's OR VIDEO OF RIDES!!!

Most of the time they don't come out and like Star Tours, you'll get your arse kicked around by managment.
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