Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Does Segway Ownership make Sense?


I got to ride a Segway self-balancing personal transporter at the Outdoor Expo here in The Villages, FL. It was very quick and easy to learn and a fun experience overall. The control handle was quite intuitive: you push it left or right to turn in place and lean on it (not push!) to go forward. We were cautioned not to lean back except to stop the device because backing up could lead to accidents for inexperienced riders.

More Segway rides are in store for me, however, I don't expect to buy one any time soon. Say what?

At the current cost (over $5000) Segway ownership only makes economic sense for narrow market segments: mall guards, city police, emergency services, warehouses, urban postal and other delivery services, college or business campuses, military, and so on.

As for personal ownership, I could imagine that someone who lives and works in town might buy one for commuting (SEE VIDEO) over relatively short distances. Beyond that, they would be a great playtoy for the well-to-do and the adventurous who might use them for sports such as Segway polo (SEE VIDEO).

According to Wikipedia the legal status of the Segway is mixed. It may be too slow for use on roadways and even bicycle lanes and too fast for use on crowded sidewalks. Like everything else legal, this has provided a field day for lawyers on both sides. It appears, however, at least in the US, that Segways may be legally used in most towns on sidewalks and, under certain conditions, on bicycle paths. It may be used inside federal buildings and some other facilities by persons with mobility impairments.


So, where do you I come in? Well, we are candidates to rent Segways at theme parks, museums, national parks, and so on. Segway tours are offered at various locations for about $48/hour. There is a Segway Riders Club here in The Villages that organizes tours and arranges for an outfitter to supply the Segways.

That free demo at the Outdoor Expo is likely to be quite costly for me!

Ira Glickstein

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