Segway for Individuals
The Segway HT Takes on the City of Lights.
Jan and Bob Aiken
From Jupiter, FL
A report filed from Paris, France
It's twilight on our first night in Paris. We had just finished a gourmet meal in a cozy restaurant in the Latin Quarter and were crossing the Roosevelt Bridge on a lazy stroll back to our hotel when we saw it! My heart jumped! It has a habit of doing that when I encounter wonders like the view from the Eiffel Tour, vistas along the Mediterranean, famous works of art, or in this case....a Segway HT!
We had just read the news article about George Bush's mishap with a Segway HT and the reporter's "spin" regarding the future of non-petroleum fueled transportation. My guess is that George's tumble will be no more significant regarding the future of the Segway PT than the first Wright Brothers airplane crash.
We were so excited to see the Segway PT that we signed up at Mike's Bike Tours for the next evening run. After a brief but thorough introduction to the balancing intricacies of the Segway PT, we were off! Lean forward to go, lean backward to stop, twist the throttle on the left handlebar to make it turn right or left. It has three speeds, beginner (saves battery life), cruise and "get out of the way." Top speed is 12.5 mph with a range of about 12 miles on a single charge. It didn't take long before we could show off our skill with the "look Mom, no hands" maneuver.
John, our capable and enthusiastic tour guide from Texas A&M University, provided colorful commentary regarding the Parisian cityscape and historical sites. The excitement of using a Segway PT, PERIOD, was intense, but doing so in the city of Paris was pure heaven. Other pedestrians were just as excited to see us, except the French local who wanted to know how tourists found the ice cream parlor she thought was a well kept secret.
Mike's Bike Tour had just added the Segway PT on June 5th and we were among the first one hundred people to try it. The Segway company is trying to expose the unit to the public and determine how well in can be used in urban settings. Paris was perfect because of the sidewalks, scenery, ramped curbs, etc. We suffered from a bit of ankle fatigue, but it may have been because we did a lot of walking prior to our ride. Learning how to balance was similar to your first solo ride on your two wheel bike. You soon get the hang of it. It was a bit clumsy getting off and like wrestling an alligator when you fall off!
Despite my fanny-flop caused by a slight miscalculation when ascending a curb between parked cars, Bob and I both agreed the Segway experience topped our recent hot air balloon ride in Napa Valley, California. (Hot air balloons were also a Parisian curiosity in their early introduction.) We shared our story with friends who were so interested they teased about changing their French country tour to include a stop in Paris just for the opportunity to ride a Segway PT.
As for the future of the Segway PT in human transportation, the possibilities seem endless. We talked about making a list of potential uses, then reviewing our ideas in 10 or 20 years to see how close we came! Who would have guessed the snowmobile, skateboard or dirt bike would become such big enterprises?
With the introduction of the horseless carriage, no one imagined 25 years later that a horse would be a pet and that a house would have a garage. Horse manure pollution spawned the automobile, will we seque from the automobile onto a battery powered, two wheeled moving transporter? The future is here. We're ready!