Segway New Zealand is of the view that the Segway PT meets the definition of a ‘mobility device’ under New Zealand law. It is absolutely clear under the Land Transport Act that any person – whether disabled or not – is legally entitled to use any mobility device of their choice.
We believe that a ‘mobility device’ is the appropriate definition for the Segway PT at this time, for two reasons.
Firstly, it just makes sense. New Zealand’s rules for using a mobility device happen to be a subset of the rules already well-established for using Segway PTs in most other countries. While we’d like Segway PT users in New Zealand to have all of the same rights as people in most of North America and Europe do, what we have now is a good starting point. Here in NZ, users of mobility devices must ride at a speed that does not endanger others, always give way to pedestrians, and ride a footpath if one is present and accessible (otherwise along the edge of the road). Elsewhere around the world, riders of Segway PTs usually have the choice of the using footpath like a pedestrian, or riding in a bicycle lane or along the edge of the road with traffic.
Secondly, as of 2011 the majority of Segway PT users that you see out and about on New Zealand’s footpaths are mobility impaired – although you probably won’t realise this as they glide by (this is one of the many great benefits of the Segway PT compared with a mobility scooter or power chair). New Zealand has the highest per capita ownership of mobility scooters in the world – so it is little surprise we also have the highest per capita ownership of Segway PTs by persons who are mobility impaired. Kiwis love to get out and about and maintain their independence, and the Segway PT keeps us upright, strong and looking the world in the eye.
Other uses of the Segway PT you’ll see in New Zealand include tourists taking Guided Tours, security guards patrolling with three times the efficiency over being on foot, twice-as-efficient deliveries of mail and food, and a range of recreational pursuits. Of course, in many cases these individuals are on Segway PTs because they cannot physically pursue these jobs or enjoy these endeavors by walking.
Read our 4 page position paper Why the Segway PT is a Mobility Device in NZ (click the link to download, it is a.pdf file) and feel free to contact us with your questions (and for a list of references to the information, data and quotations found in this document).