Gizmodo – one of the world’s most popular daily tech news sites – has issued a major and sincere apology. Jason Chen, one of their senior journalists writes (full article):
“You might remember this post three years ago in which I laughed at a woman on a Segway pushing a baby stroller for being lazy. Well, I’m a giant asshole, and I want to apologize to Melissa Hofstetter. I’m sorry Melissa.”
What Jason Chen and many other people had failed to recognise is that many mobility impaired people choose Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) as their preferred mobility device. In his retraction he explains how it has been recently brought to his attention that “….Melissa is a 15-year cancer survivor who lost her left leg to the illness. She started using the Segway as an assistive device because it’s both maneuverable and because she has difficulty walking, especially on hilly areas. It also allows her to be in the standing position and look people in the eyes during conversations, and be mobile in ways that wheelchairs are not. The photo came to be when she was visiting her family in Seattle a few years back, helping take care of her grandniece while her grandnieces parents were busy. Someone—no idea who—took a photo of this and put it on the internet. It spread quickly, as unique images are apt to do.”
Compared with wheelchairs and mobility scooters, the PT has a tiny footprint and is small and light enough to make it easy to take in a vehicle. Segway NZ estimates that mobility use is the largest single customer group of Segway PTs in this country.
The benefits of two-wheeled self-balancing technology is lost on many commentators – even those who should know better. For example, when General Motors and Segway revealed the EN-V concept two-wheel, two-seater city microcar at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai in May many motoring writers missed the real benefits of bringing Segway’s self-balancing configuration to this type of vehicle. Motor Trends’ article explains it clearly. Last week the EN-V was taken from the Expo for a joyride on Huaihai Road.