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Segway, still lame


 

According to several reports, like this one and this one, the Segway is suddenly surging in popularity. In this age of ungodly fuel prices, everyone from law enforcement agencies to universities and even pizza delivery men are turning to the electric Segway. As Popular Mechanics asks, “Could (inventor) Dean Kamen’s transportation revolution be on its way, albeit a few years late?”

I’ll answer that. No. No. No.  I’m reminded of the Arrested Development episode where Gob, the absurd character played by Will Arnett, tries to drive his Segway onto a construction site, only to get hung up on a small mound of dirt.  It brilliantly summed up how inherently silly the technology is (not to mention the people who ride them). The Segway was touted as a revolutionary product when it hit the market in 2001. But what its few supporters failed to notice was that nobody was calling for a revolution against walking. And that’s all the Segway is, a fancy gizmo for people who are too lazy (or unable) to walk or never could figure out the tricky art  of riding a bicycle.

And if the price of gas is really getting you down, the chances are you don’t have $5,000 lying around to buy a Segway. It’s no wonder the Segway’s big customers these days are public agencies, not private companies (who generally know a bad deal when they see one). So let’s forget about the Segway revolution and see this thing for what it is: a terrific prop for comics and jokes.  


 
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Segway, still lame

  1. My father-in-law has MS and the Segway has saved his life (and his self-esteem). There are tons of people who have MS for whom this is an amazing device.
    My father-in-law can’t ride a bike. He can’t walk more than a block. If he wants to take a “stroll” with his wife, the segway is his only
    option.

    He isn’t ignoring public transportation or personal transportation. Getting up and down the stairs on the subway is next-to-impossible for him. The busses only work for some destinations but not all.

    So, go ahead and be an insensitive prick and prejudge everyone on a segway.

    Or, open your mind a little bit and understand that the whole world isn’t just like you.

  2. The segway replaced my car, not walking. i run a few miles per day, cycle- all that. i just don’t sit on my ass in a 3,000 lb metal car to haul my 170lb body 5 miles to work.
    car replacement, not walking replacement. i’d never walk 10 miles a day to / from work — how often do you?

  3. Segway prejudice: figures Maclean’s would innovate a new form of hate speech. Yay team!

    I note that Arrested Development clips have been rather aggressively pruned from Youtube. A prelude to the Arrested Development movie, one hopes.

  4. A prelude to the Arrested Development movie, one hopes.

    From your lips to God’s ears, Paul.

  5. Here in Washington we are overrun by tourists on these things. Even the cops use them.

  6. Another moron with a pen who just doesn’t get it.

    Watch and learn.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/9

    Then try writing something creative without jumping on the Segway bashing bandwagon.

  7. Luiza,
    Overrun???? How many thousands of these units are there in DC. I’m estimating less than 100, with probably no more than 20 in operation at any one time, but regardless. . . Since these machines are a substitute for automobiles (not walking, as some ill-informed individuals would have you believe), would you prefer that the users be in automobiles, causing pollution (both air and noise), and clogging the roads still more? Would you prefer that your police be in automobiles fueled with $5 gas by you? You could make the police walk, but then you’d have to hire 2-3 times the number of police to cover the same area. Think about it.

    Who is this guy Colin Campbell whose writings are so strangely similar to several other cookie cutter posts on the web?

  8. Mr. Campbell, have you ever tested a Segway before? This is incredible technology being used by over 750 police & security departments around the world. Segway has off-road models which are being used in the sand. Funny, how you gather your opinion from a TV show. Solid journalism!
    Don’t let your blind ignorance stand in the way of your understanding.

  9. What I love so much about the Segway is that its partisans are so cheerful.

  10. The Segway was not meant to substitute walking, it’s an emission-free sub for scooters and mopeds.

  11. Who knew the Segway crowd was so touchy? This post has provided a fascinating learning experience.
    On the lameness of Segway – I think some of us feel that way just because they’re so novel. Riding around in one feels too conspicuous for your typically self-conscious North American. That said – the novelty factor wears off. I was in Rome last week and saw a bunch of cops riding on them. It looked funny at first, then I got used to it.
    Still, I don’t see this company growing beyond a moderately profitable niche. I just can’t see thousands of these things on our streets. They’re too wide to be accomodated on sidewalks, and most people who have bikes like their bikes. The Segway can’t match the speed of a scooter. I just don’t see any compelling reason to buy one over the alternatives, and therefore, it’s hard to see people getting past that initial self-consciousness factor.

  12. As CT so eloquently points out, I rather carelessly overlooked what an important tool the Segway can be for those with limited mobility. And yes, some police forces obviously find it useful in some instances.

    But at the risk of being called a prick or a moron again, some of you have been drinking way too much of the Segway Kool-Aid. Let’s not forget that the Segway has been on the market for seven years now. The debate about whether or not it’s a revolutionary product or a practical replacement for walking, biking, car riding or crawling is long dead. It’s none of those things! That’s not my point of view, that’s the global market talking. More people ride unicylces than they do Segways.

    The Segway is a mildly interesting piece of technology, but it managed to miss every single important market. It’s too slow to replace biking. It’s too cumbersome to replace walking (which is what makes it so darn funny). And if you can’t plainly see how it’s not a good substitute for a car, then the chances are… well, then the chances are you’re a Segway owner.

    And then there’s the price. At $5,000, it costs more than most motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles and many used cars. That’s another reason why if you’re a healthy, grown adult whizzing around on a Segway, people will snicker. It’s a product marketed to conspicuous consumers. And if the Segway was everything its fans say it is, the market would have embraced it years ago.

  13. Wow, Wow, Wow! Love these comments here. I must post first a disclaimer, I am a Segway advocate.

    For guys like CC…where to start. OK let’s get our facts straight, Segways have not been on the market for 7 years. Dean Kamen did introduce them in late 2001 (anyone remember September 11th, 2001? Yeah, it was sort of right after that, Christmas I’m pretty sure. Not alot of people thinking about Segways and “alternative transportation”), but they were not available to the public until 2003, and that was before they (Segway) had the smarts to open dealerships. Granted, they got a bad rep for a battery recall early on, but do you know that it was less than 5 machines that there was a problem with? Segway was being proavtive.

    The 2nd generation Segway came out in late 2006, which has lithium ion batteries and novel steering technology….THAT is why they have become so popular. The public and media is just now catching on to what those of us realized almost 2 years ago…NO GAS, NO PARKING, HAVE FUN ON YOUR WAY (up to 24 miles), AND TAKE A CAR OFF THE ROAD!!! It is SOOO not a replacment for walking or biking, but it is for cars on short trips. GO GREEN!

  14. PS: My favorite comment is the one from some purple-haired girl yelling at me from the passenger window of an SUV, “Why don’t you walk somewhere you lazy piece of sh….?” That was absolutely brilliant! I was just about 3 months post-op from my 11th knee surgery. I used to bike alot, but it never replaced my car for errands…not like a Segway:-)

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