An online poll conducted yesterday by the New Zealand Herald shows the majority of respondents are happy with the use of Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) on city footpaths. This is exactly what owners of Segway PTs have been doing here in Auckland since 2003.
Choosing between 4 options, a total of 54% selected the three answers for the status quo, where riders normally use Segway PTs on footpaths under the same rules as mobility scooters.
Twenty four percent consider Segway PTs to be exactly the same as mobility scooters, with a further 10% of the view that riders should keep to a restricted speed. And 20% percent chose the “Who called the fun police?” answer, suggesting a resistance to further encroachments on personal freedoms or disincentives that prevent people from embracing zero-emission personal transport or efficient business methods.
Only 46% thought Segway PTs should be classed as bicycles, which are not permitted on most footpaths in New Zealand. We explain below how Segway PTs are different to bicycles.
Segway New Zealand’s view is that the Segway PT meets the legal definition of a mobility device (a category that includes mobility scooters). The Segway PT was designed and constructed for mobility purpose,s and has a power output of 750 watts (which is under the legal maximum of 1,500 watts). Accordingly, we advise riders to operate their Segway PTs in accordance with rules for mobility devices: ride on the footpath (not the road) if a footpath is present, ride at a speed that is not hazardous to others, and always give way to pedestrians.
We also believe that the footpath is the most appropriate place for Segway PTs to be used under New Zealand conditions. Our population density is low and our footpaths are wide and in good condition, and easily accommodate people and traditional mobility scooters and small electric scooters. During the last decade Segway PTs have been determined safe and appropriate for use on footpaths and pedestrian spaces all US states, parts of Canada, and in just about all EU nations (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, etc).
Segway PTs are very different from bicycles when moving through a pedestrian environment because they were designed to be different. They were designed from the ground up to be safe and appropriate for use around and amongst people. Unlike a bicycle, a person a Segway PT has a similar footprint to a walking person. A stationary Segway PT remains upright in one place, self-balancing at rest. Riders stand high, and have good sight lines. Stopping distance is much shorter than a bicycle, and the Segway turns on the spot (zero-radius turning). The top speed of a Segway PT is electronically limited to very much slower than a bicycle.
Segway PTs are much smaller and lighter than most mobility scooters, taking up less than a quarter of the space on the footpath. The Segway PT has a similar top speed to the faster scooters on sale in New Zealand, yet the Segway PT stops much more quickly. Because the Segway PT is small and light, it is easy for owners to take with them in their car. These are just come of the reasons more than 100 mobility impaired New Zealanders choose to use a Segway PT rather than a mobility scooter to get out and about and enjoy their lives.