The government of Queensland, Australia is about to change state law to permit the use of Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) on public roads. According to Transport minister Scott Emerson, here are the safety restrictions that will apply (as reported in the Australian media):
“Segways in Queensland will have a speed limit of 12km/h, similar to other areas in Australia and overseas,” he said.
“They must also have lights and reflectors – similar to those used on bicycles – when riding at night or in poor weather.
“Like bicycles, they must have a bell or similar warning device in working order and use of mobile phones will also be banned while using a Segway.”
Mr Emerson said users would be required to ride on footpaths or in bike lanes, and only cross roads at pedestrian crossings.
“I’m satisfied we have struck a balance between safety and giving people more choice about how they get around,” he said.
Interestingly, Australia has set tougher restrictions than apply in most European countries, or in almost every American state – where use on urban roads is also permitted at speeds of up to 20km/h. In Queensland, riders must be at least 12 years old and wear an approved bicycle helmet (with a fine of $110 for not doing so, the same as for bicycle riders). What is not clear from media reports is if skateboard and snowboarding helmets are also permitted, as Segway. Inc. recommends these styles of helmet as offering better protection for PT users than those designed for bicycle riders (because of their shape, cycle helmets do not offer good protection to the lower skull/upper neck region).
Queensland is the first state in Australia to legislate full public use of Segway PTs on public roads (this term also encompasses areas such as footpaths). Western Australia and ACT currently permit Segway PT use by licensed Segway Tour operators in certain public locations, while other states still restrict use to private property. Queensland expects this new law to open up new tourism opportunities for the local economy, as well increase personal commuting options.
“I know that the [Queensland] Tourist Industry Council has strongly welcomed this move,” said Emerson.
According to the Herald Sun newspaper, Managing Director of Segway Queensland Brett Walton said the vehicles were transforming the way modern society functioned across the world.
”They provide a safe option or travel, but they’re also increasing productivity in the same way laptops and mobile phones have,” said Mr Walton.
”Time is money, and if you’re moving faster, you’re going to be able to do more.”
He said their uses were not limited to tourist ventures with Segways increasingly used by airport security overseas, as well as policing and warehousing operations.
“They are the future,” he said
Segway PTs are also used for beach patrols in many locations, from Dayton Beach (USA) to Spain to Bali (a holiday destination popular with Australian and New Zealand tourists), and Mr Walton suggests they are likely to be adopted in Australia for this purpose.
”Unlike other beach vehicles, there’s no risk of running over people because you can see right down to your feet.”
Queensland Police have already indicated the intend to begin using the Segway Patroller model. Police Minister Jack Dempsey says they will be used for public safety and security roles at next year’s G20 conference.