Last year the US Federal Government formally classified the Segway PT as a mobility device under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). From March this year, businesses, councils, and national parks were required to permit access by mobility impaired persons on Segway PTs, and update any current policies/rules/bylaws/regulations/etc to enable this.
Until the invention of the Segway PT, mobility users did not really have any practical way of truly enjoying parks, beaches and easy walking tracks.
Most mobility scooters simply cannot cope with the conditions found on even well-kept tracks, and none can operate on sand. Even those mobility scooters with greater off-road capability leave deep tracks behind on soft surfaces due to small wheels and overall weight, and are correspondingly less ‘polite’ when used in busy pedestrian areas. Overall size and weight make mobility scooters inconvenient to bring from home to the great outdoors.
The Segway PT is lightweight (models range from 32kg to 56kg), leaves almost no trace even on a sandy beach, and is small and light enough to transport inside most family vehicles, or on a manual or electric tow-bar carrier (Segway NZ sells the powered Trilift for $2,495). Even the x2 and XT models are ‘polite’ enough for urban use (they are narrower than many modern baby carriages).
Here’s an example of how one US local transportation authority updated their bylaws to meet ADA requirements to permit use of Segway PTs on a popular walking trail:
ASPEN, Colo. — A Colorado trail popular with hikers now allows Segways, but not other motorized vehicles.
The Rio Grande Trail from Aspen to Glenwood Springs has a new policy on small electric-powered vehicles to make the trail accessible to the disabled. New rules approved by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority limit vehicles to 150 pounds (68kg), 32 inches wide and a top speed of 20 mph.
The Segway rule was intended to make the trail more accessible without allowing ATVs, snowmobiles or other motorized vehicles hikers oppose. The rules don’t cover electric bicycles, which the Authority will consider later.
This increasing recognition that the gentle, zero-emission Segway PT has such a low environmental impact is one of the reasons behind the growth in eco-tours on PTs through scenic bush routes.
These activities encourage families and groups to get out and about in the great outdoors – particularly when they would not have done so previously because one or more individuals is unable to complete such journeys on foot (meaning such outings were something everyone would have missed out on). For example, the first Segway Tour has just opened in eco-conscious Tasmania, Australia. Check out Segway Tasmania’s website and watch their promotional video on YouTube here.