Archive for February, 2014
Brisbane newspaper The Courier Mail reported today on the big benefits Police are obtaining from patrolling their city’s busy South Bank riverside tourist zone on Segway Personal Transporters (PTs):
SOUTH Bank police draw a few surprised smiles from locals while on Segway patrol.
But frontline officers say the two-wheel machines have “quadrupled” their efficiency while on the streets.
City South News joined Sergeant Johan Louw and Constable Catherine Heywood on a recent patrol, to see first-hand how the devices are being used.
South Bank police station received two Segways in September as part of an ongoing trial, with 19 officers trained.
While on patrol last week, Sgt Louw and Constable Heywood were met with smiles, a few “hellos” and waves from children, and the reception was overwhelmingly positive.
Even a young man questioned over riding a bike without a helmet was overcome with curiosity and started quizzing the officers about how Segways work.
Sergeant Johan Louw and Constable Catherine Heywood from the Southbank Police Station. Picture: JOSH WONING Source: News Limited
Sgt Louw said compared with bicycles, Segways were easier to manoeuvre in crowds and could perform a 360-degree turn.
“We can do very slow speeds in and around crowds,” he said.
Sgt Louw said police Segways could reach 22km/h, delivered an improved line of sight and saved energy when rushing to an incident.
“By the time you get over there you’re still fresh,” Sgt Louw said.
But the machines have not replaced bicycle and foot patrols, with officers deciding each shift if they want to use the machines.
Sgt Louw said most citizens were very supportive.
Police in New Zealand have already identified locations around New Zealand where officers on Segway PTs could improve public safety. The first initiative was a trial conducted in the tourist town of Taupo along the lakefront several years ago. It is likely that Segway Patrols will roll out in New Zealand at some point in the future, and may first be seen in popular tourist towns such as Queenstown, summer ‘hot spots’ like Mount Maunganui and Whangamata, as well as in busy CBD areas such as the Auckland and Wellington waterfronts.
Segway Xtreme operate on the lakefront at Lake Tekapo. Tony Greenwood purchased this business last year from the original Upper Hutt-based owners (2008-2013), and relocated it to this beautiful setting. Fully mobile thanks to a professionally built and kitted out custom trailer that holds the fleet of six Segway PTs and associated gear, Segway Xtreme offers both short Fun Rides in the reserve between the town centre and the lakefront, as well as beautiful lakeside guided tours around as far as the picturesque Pine Beach.
Further down the South Island in Queenstown, Kevin Hey operates New Zealand’s largest Segway Tour business: Segway On Q.
Here is a photo of his folding ramp built into the rear of the larger of two customised vans. This Ford Transit has room for up to ten Segway PTs in the back, and up to eight customers in front.
This setup enables Segway on Q to collect riders from their hotels to bring them to the rider training area at the start of the tour, if necessary. This “door-to-door” service is one a number of innovations that makes Segway On Q’s business unique. With two vans he is able to run two separate tours simultaneously to meet demand on the busiest days.
With two million visitors per year and world renowned beauty, Queenstown is arguably New Zealand’s premier tourist town. Whilst best-known as the skiing and snowboarding destination most popular with Australian tourists, this “Adventure Capital of New Zealand” is busy all year round with tourists from every nation as well as domestic travellers. This is where AJ Hacket invented Bungi Jumping and where the Shotover Jet puts the NZ-invented “Hamilton Jet” jet boat technology to its most spectacular use.
With so many year-round activities, Queenstown actually hosts slightly more visitors during summer than winter. This makes Segway On Q a busy year-round operation, as there are fewer seasonal peaks than at other Segway Tour locations.
Segway On Q launched in 2006 with five Segway GT models, then added i2 models over the next few years. Eventually, the fleet grew to 10 Segway i2’s with just one or two GTs kept in reserve.
The two oldest i2 models in the fleet have travelled >24,000 kilometres (15,000 miles) and >21,000 kilometres (13,000 miles), respectively. Both machines still give good performance on their original batteries. In terms of maintenance the first machine has had its elastomers replaced previously, and do not yet need replacing again. For the second machine, we replaced both gearbox couplings during this visit (the elastomers had been replaced previously too).
One of the great things about visiting commercial Segway owners all around the country is we get to see first-hand what innovations they develop.
Geoffrey Andrew at Moving Media was one of the first videographers to begin using a Segway PT to carry his camera gear, and later developed his own hands-free solution. Soon after, he purchased a Steadicam and has been using this with great success on a wide range of corporate video productions.
Last week he showed us his latest refinement of his custom hands-free design, as well as his modified SegVator powered lift/carrier on which he transports his machine on the rear of his vehicle.
This month Segway New Zealand is participating at a variety of trade shows around the country, culminating with the New Zealand National Motorhome (RV) and Caravan Show in Hamilton (28 February to 4 March 2014).
This week we’ve been at shows in Auckland, Hamilton and Palmerston North, and will be at shows in Christchurch and Dunedin next week.
We’re also visiting various fleet operators along the way (Segway Tours, universities, etc) as well as individual owners – saying ‘Hello’ and providing advice and servicing. This annual trip gives us a great opportunity to spend a bit of time with Segway PT users located outside the main centres. If you’d like us to call in, please be in touch right away.