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Re: [carfree_cities] "IT will change the way our cities are built"

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  • J.H. Crawford
    ... Let s not lose sight of the fact that Segway is nothing more than a substitute for a bike. It is, in fact, less flexible, as it will be harder to take kids
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 4, 2001
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      Will Stewart said:

      >Now that "Ginger" has been unveiled as the Segway HT, people are being told that
      >this will change the way we live. Does an HT have a place in a carfree city? Does
      >this allow us to alter what a carfree city is/will be? See the HT at

      Let's not lose sight of the fact that Segway is nothing more than a
      substitute for a bike. It is, in fact, less flexible, as it will be
      harder to take kids along, carry large amounts of groceries, etc.
      Its much greater weight will make it very difficult to horse up
      stairs and so forth. It does have one large advantage: it takes up
      little more street space than a bike.

      >Some thoughts;
      >1. 12 mph means that a 5 minute walk is now 1 mile, which means a generic district
      >could be close to 2 miles in diameter, or almost 4000 acres. At a 30 du/acre
      >density, this translates into 120,000 dwelling units, which means a city of 1
      >million would only need 8 districts and would have greatly shortened time-of-access
      >to any other part of the city.

      Actually, it's pi square miles, or about 2000 acres, so about 60,000 DU
      per district.

      >2. The HT will have accessories for transporting groceries, packages etc, which
      >could require significant parking requirements (compared to the pedestrian). There
      >is probably a 20/1 parking ratio for HTs to cars, so space doesn't seem to be a big
      >problem until you start adding trailers, though backpacks may solve most of that.

      I'll bet the ratio is better than 20 to 1. (Bikes are apparently usually
      calculated at about 7 to 1.) But if you're figuring car parking, you
      have to allow as much room for access lanes as for the parking spaces themselves.
      These things look like they have a footprint of about 2 sq.ft., or 21,000 per
      acre, compared to the usual figure of about 100 cars/acre. The actual figure
      will be no more than 10,000 due to access lane requirements, but it's still
      about 100 times better.

      >3. How well will pedestrians and HTs really mix?

      No better than bicyclists riding on the sidewalk, I'm afraid.

      >Will this discourage some

      For sure.

      >Will this encourage more people to leave their cars at home?


      >is the equivalent of someone running, which would not be welcomed on a crowded

      On lightly-used sidewalks, people can run without creating problems,
      so Segway running at top speed shouldn't be that much of a problem
      (although I've also seen the top speed reported as 17 MPH).

      >Similar to some of the bike discussions before, special lanes could be
      >allocated on the major pedestrian streets for the 12 mph mode, while smaller
      >streets would have a 5 mph limit for HTs. The biggest problem may be with
      >teenagers zipping around (on Martha's Vineyard, they had a big problem with
      >"dopeheads on mopeds").


      >4. The HT weighs 80 pounds without accessories. A strong man can pick it up and
      >carry it upstairs, or put it in a car trunk, though others could not. (I don't
      >know if there is a special mode for stairs)

      don't think so

      >5. I don't forsee HTs being allowed on Metros immediately, outside the usual
      >off-hours bike arrangements. That could change, of course. Not sure how well HTs
      >would take to escalators or the limited elevator space.

      They're much better than bikes in that respect. If the use stands on it
      while travelling, they take up almost no extra space.

      >6. Would these be allowed on bike paths/lanes? My initial inclination would be
      >"yes". Would different lane accomodations be made? This may actually increase the
      >demand for such lanes.

      I think they may mix fairly well with bikes (although some cyclists
      will complain that they are too slow. In fact, though, 12 MPH is not
      an unusual speed for "casual" cyclists not wearing Lycra and not
      pedalling $4000 bikes.

      >7. This may bring vastly heightened interest to carfree cities. It is a new

      I think the most important thing here is that this opens up the discussion
      of just what kind of cities we want.

      My own view is that they must be treated as bicycles, and tolerated,
      if not allowed, on sidewalks, as long as they are ridden responsibly,
      which means slowly, and always in deference to pedestrians.

      -- ### --

      J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
      postmaster@... Carfree.com
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