Our ‘Political Edition’ news post – Election 2011

Tomorrow is the General Election in New Zealand. With that in mind, here is a partial list of senior Members of Parliament that we know have enjoyed riding the Segway Personal Transporter (PT) in recent times. While we’re yet to get current Prime Minister John Key and National Party Leader gliding on one of our PTs, we’re sure he’ll be more graceful than George Bush.

  • Bill English (National Party) – current Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, and former leader of National Party
  • Judith Collins (National Party) – current Minister of Police
  • Wayne Mapp (National Party) – current Minister of Defence and Minister of Research, Science & Technology
  • John Carter (National Party) – current Minister of Local Government, Minister of Civil Defence, Minister for Senior Citizens
  • Helen Clarke (Labour Party) – Prime Minister of New Zealand 1999-2008
  • Winston Peters (New Zealand First party) – Leader of NZ First, former Deputy Prime Minister and  Treasurer, for Minister of Maori Affairs
  • Rodney Hide (Act Party) – former Leader of Act 2004-2011, former Minister of Local Government, former Associate Minister of Commerce and former Minister of Regulatory Reform
  • Sue Kedgley (Green Party) – Member of Parliament

Segway New Zealand has been tempting politicians onto Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) since late-2003. For example, here are two photos from 2003 of familiar political faces on a collision course from the political middle and the political right, respectively:

Segway New Zealand has an initiative underway to achieve a law change that creates a new category of vehicle for self-balancing, two-wheeled personal transporters (such as the Segway Personal Transporter) during the next term of government.

It is our view that the Segway PT is currently regulated under the Mobility Device definition. While this is both practical and appropriate for the time being, we believe New Zealand can do better by adopting the approaches used across the USA and in the more progressive European nations. Our desired outcome for a new legal definition and operation rules include:

  • that the Segway PT – and similar devices that are constructed to a suitably high quality – are regulated in a similar way to mobility devices, ensuring they can be used by everyone aged 12+ without the need of a drivers license (that is, just like a bicycle – which makes sense, as the Segway PT is easier to learn to ride, easier to ride, stops in a shorter distance, and doesn’t travel as fast as a bike)
  • that in addition to the freedom to use any Segway PT on footpaths (and along the sides of formed roads where footpaths are not present or accessible), that PTs can also be used in bicycle lanes, in those bus lanes in which bicycles can be used, on urban (50km/h) roads, and in all public spaces
  • in parks, reserves, on beaches, and on tracks, trails and open spaces on all Crown Lands including National Parks and all areas managed by Department of Conservation wherever pedestrians are permitted
  • that local government has limited powers to set restrictions on use in clearly specified or defined locations, for the purpose of ensuring public safety but only when real, specific risks have been identified and quantified
  • that the Segway PT and similar devices are considered the same as and are not regulated under rules for bicycles, electric bicycles, mopeds, or low-powered scooters and recreational devices
  • that the resulting category and rules encourages use by persons living with mobility impairment and/or other disabilities, urban commuters, tourism, police and security, mail and deliveries, and other personal and business productivity roles.

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This weekend in Auckland is the annual Santa Parade down Queen Street. This year five Segway Personal Transporters are being deployed in public safety and event management roles by organisers, including one being used by Auckland Transport.

 

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