Like Glenn Reynolds, I read my Reason Express this morning, and I have to agree with Jeff Taylor; the Segway scooter is overhyped, particularly when much of the hype reeks of self-righteous social engineering and the evils of automobiles. Another indicator of being overhyped is that their web site is, literally, too flashy (it doesn’t load properly in Opera)–they need to do a version for those of us who are both anti-Microsoft and anti-AOL. (I have the same problem with Andrew Sullivan’s website as well, which is a serious problem, as I really like to read his stuff).
My instantaneous prediction is that the technology itself will be applied in ways that we can’t foresee (that’s always a safe one), but that this particular machine is not going to eliminate cars from the inner city any time soon.
In my current circumstances, I can’t envision a use for it–I work at home, and the only times I go out, I’m generally getting too much stuff (groceries, Home Depot) to carry on it. I might use it to drive to the beach a mile and a half away, but my main purpose in going to the beach is usually for a walk, so if I just rode it on the Strand, that would defeat much of the purpose of the excursion (in addition to looking goofy), and if I just took it to the beach, and then walked, I’d have to worry about leaving it (I wonder what kind of anti-theft devices they have in mind). I’ll stick to a bike for now.
Also, I’m sorry, but it just looks…silly. Like riding a push lawnmower.
I’ve just learned via Satire Wire that this technology may have already revolutionized warfare. Kamen may have managed to keep the press from getting it, but not Al Qaeda. According to the story, they have found “proof that the terrorist leader may have been planning to intensify his revolution by producing personal transportation devices of mass distribution.”
“‘Picture Al Qaeda terrorists able to zip around cities on their dastardly errands at 12 miles an hour for only 5 cents a day. What a tremendous costs savings and convenience that would be for them,’ said Army Gen. Tommy Franks.”
All right, maybe I’m wrong–we’ve misunderestimated the power of this technology.
Damn you, bin Laden. DAMN YOOOUUUUU!!!!
Also, it has been duly noted that this thing doesn’t have a bumper. Is that an add-on accessory that you get with the deluxe package (along with a cup holder)?
Without a bumper, you can’t have bumper stickers.
My Other Car Is A Car
Feel free to add any other suggestions for Segway bumper stickers by clicking on the “comment” button below or emailing me.
Reader Bill Haynes has several good questions/issues, relative to the web site:
Sure will pose traffic safety problems, at least until adequate alternate routing away from vehicular traffic is built, and that will take years, even if they become very popular.
Personal injuries will be common, as the user is even less protected than on a bicycle or motorcycle. The video shows people using them totally sans protection, which will not be acceptable. If they are claimed to be equivalent to walking, and thus require no protection, that belies that they are an improvement upon walking. If they are faster, as demonstrated in their video, they require protection such as helmets, elbow and wrist pads, etc.
As damage goes up as the square of velocity; thrice the speed =nine times the impact force.
What will be the minimum age allowed? Young kids will be injured and die in accidents at an unacceptable rate if not limited. And how will that be achieved?
Will licensing be required?
What will liability insurance rates be? Surely higher than for autos, except for repairs and replacement costs.
None of these concerns appear to have been acknowledged.
And UPI columnist Jim Bennett weighs in:
What I’d really like is to have it as a smart cargo platform that I can lead on a leash, so I can walk without having to carry heavy and awkward loads. Then I’d walk more often for practical errands.
That would actually, in some ways, be a better, and safer application. Sort of like a mechanical pack mule, for shopping or hiking (if all terrain). Still not sure it would be worth three grand, though.