Segway’s continue to separate opinion, with them being seen as a “marmite” brand; you either love them or hate them. They have definitely become more popular, but will they ever reach truly global status? Already they are used in a lot of airports in the world, particularly in Asia and seem to do a good job of transporting people around very busy places, at speed if necessary. They are also used in theme parks in America, with some towns in the USA offering “Segway Tours”. Will we ever see them dominating towns and cities though? Only time will tell I suppose. They are marketed (and rightly so) as a green and zero-emission form of transport, which is obviously very good for the environment. They are also quoted as being able to reach a speed of over 12mph.
The Segway was first introduced in the early 00s, in 2001 to be exact. The man behind the invention is a guy called Dean Kamen. There was a huge buzz around them, with someone being quoted as saying they would be more significant than the Internet! I think that was a little (lot) misinformed! More of the history can be found on http://www.segway.com/.
Segway’s are a strange phenomenon in terms of law and where you are allowed to use them. They divide opinion in every Government on the planet! Everywhere seems to have different rules concerning the places you can ride them. For example, in the UK, it is against the law to use one anywhere that is not private land, and obviously with the owner’s permission. You will be prosecuted if you are seen to be riding a Segway on a pavement. In Switzerland for example, you can ride them on roads as long as you are registered, but you cannot use them on pavements or any zones that are frequented by pedestrians. In Italy however that rule is kind of reversed; a Segway can be used anywhere that IS frequented by pedestrians, but it is illegal to ride a Segway on a road. In Denmark, a Segway is in the same classification as moped, but because a Segway has no mechanical brakes and are not fitted with license plates, they are as a result prohibited for use on roads.
In North America they have gone through a lot of different legislations. Currently in most states of the USA, you can use a Segway on pavements, bicycle lanes, and any road that has certain speed limits. Canada has different laws for the different provinces. In all provinces you cannot ride a Segway on a ride, and depending where you are you may be able to use them on a pavement that is not close to a road. If you are in Mexico however, there are no rules as to the prohibition of the use of Segway in a public place.
In Australia it is pretty much illegal to ride a Segway in public places and on any road. In New South Wales, the use of a Segway is allowed on the sites of some tourist attractions. In Queensland you can ride a Segway on a public path if you are wearing a helmet. In New Zealand, Segway’s are seen to be in the same class as a general mobility device, so there use on pavements is allowed as long as pedestrians are given priority and you are using them sensibly. I wonder if the inventor saw this kind of red-tape problem when he was designing them!?!
This year has seen the release of the “Segway Hoverboard”. They have become very popular and are a hands-free version of the Segway. In the UK however they are bound by the same rules as normal Segway’s, so it is still illegal to ride them anywhere that isn’t private property. They have still exploded in popularity and have been a bit of a sight in celebrity land, with a lot of footballers and famous musicians being seen using them.
With this rise in popularity, there is also a big market for Segway’s in the UK. There are lots of examples on classified sites and www.for-sale.co.uk/segway is a good illustration of that. Just be wary if you are buying one and be well aware of all of the rules that are in force regarding the use. You will get an instant £75 fine if you are caught by police using one in a public area! They are still fun though and if you or a mate has a big garden then I would recommend having a go. You are guaranteed to spend a long time laughing!