Re: [carfree_cities] segway
- At 3:22 PM -0330 12/5/01, Brian Paquet wrote:
>At first I was excited, on further reflection I have to say, so what.No the Segway doesn't address the inadequacies motorized bicycles
>Consider this.There are mopeds that get 120 miles to the gallon, there are
>electic powered biks that get similar speed and distance performance to
>the segway. Neither of these has replaced the car. Consider why not, I
>will leave the reasons why as a homework assignment ;), and ask yourself
>if the segway fixes these problems.
have vs. cars, but it definitely does address ones that they have vs.
pedestrians. E.g. in a storm, a car is better than either a moped or
a Segway, but in a park/plaza/mall the Segway is the only one of the
three that could mix with the pedestrians there. (Maybe. We'll have
to see how the experiments go over the course of the next year.)
So really the question is not whether we've found a replacement for
an automobile -- it's whether or not we've found something that will
help make car-free zones more likely. Right now I can imagine some
future historian looking back and saying Segway 1.0 was the catalyst
that got the general population thinking, even though the first major
U.S. city did not go car-free for another 100 years.
Even if Segway doesn't solve the practical problems we have today, it
very well might be a part of the solution. Heck, if I as a die-hard
driver can more easily imagine myself living/working car-free then
Segway has accomplished something significant already.
- on 12/05/01 13:51, Mark Burgess at markb@... wrote:
> ... in a park/plaza/mall the Segway is the only one of theJust out of curiosity, in the mall or plaza, what sort of Segway speed limit
> three that could mix with the pedestrians there. ...
should be established, and what should be the rules of the road. Pass on
right. Pedestrians have ROW. Who is at fault if a pedestrian steps in
front of, or backs up into, a speeding, or non-speeding, passing Segway?
- At 5:00 PM -0800 12/5/01, Ed Brighton wrote:
>on 12/05/01 13:51, Mark Burgess at markb@... wrote:I'm not really in a position to talk with any authority about what
> > ... in a park/plaza/mall the Segway is the only one of the
> > three that could mix with the pedestrians there. ...
>Just out of curiosity, in the mall or plaza,
the Segway rules should be but I can certainly toss some thoughts out
>what sort of Segway speed limit should be established,Personally I'd rather see guidelines than laws but I don't know if
city planners work that way. Maybe the speed limit could be something
like "reasonable for the surrounding traffic," or "not reckless." :-)
I dunno. Seems like when wheels and feet mix, the wheels shouldn't go
faster than a jogging pace.
>and what should be the rules of the road. Pass on right.Rules of the "road" would have to be something like the real rules of
the road in your area I suppose. E.g. around here passing is
generally supposed to happen on the left. In malls, I've noticed that
people tend to walk on the right side just as they drive on the right
side. But it's not real consistent since it doesn't have to be. Maybe
we will learn that it's best to require Segways to stay to the right.
>Pedestrians have ROW.I can't imagine a case where this would be an issue. If there were
little roads with intersections (or if it turns out that Segways have
to use the street) I could, but in a freeform area like a plaza I
can't see how a rule for this would be better than common sense,
courtesy and attentiveness.
>Who is at fault if a pedestrian steps inThere must be rules in place already that govern ped-ped
>front of, or backs up into, a speeding, or non-speeding, passing Segway?
interactions, or ped-bike/rollerskate/skateboard ones. Who's at fault
if I back into the path of a jogger? What if instead it's some kid
running in the mall? Tends to be a "no harm, no foul" kind of thing I
Ultimately I think pedestrians and Segwists will just have to learn
how to watch out for one another. Laws may help a bit but without
cooperation nobody wins. E.g. around here pedestrians have the right
of way if they are in or are about to enter a crosswalk. But any
pedestrian who deliberately steps out in front of a moving car is, of
course, a fool. The courts may decide in his favor but he's the one
that has to live with the broken back. Similarly, even if a
reasonable set of Segway rules can be established people will still
have to use good judgement. Right now I am feeling like the
adjustment will be inevitable... suddenly the future is different
than it used to be.
- on 12/05/01 18:38, Mark Burgess at markb@... wrote:
> Ultimately I think pedestrians and Segwists will just have to learnI am trying to keep an open mind, but when I first saw the Segway, I was
> how to watch out for one another.
reminded of the Sinclair C5. http://www.sinclairc5.co.uk/
I was living in England when Sir Clive introduced the C5 - the hype there
then is like the Segway hype is here now - how the thing is going to change
This wired extract refers to the C5 in relation to "Ginger":
"Revolutionary personal transport systems have been revealed to an
expectant, and disbelieving, world before.
In January 1985 British inventor Sir Clive Sinclair unveiled his
three-wheeled C5, a kind of surfboard tricycle in which plucky drivers lay
on their backs and navigated the roads feet first.
Powered by battery and pedaling, the low-profile vehicle was invisible to
trucks. It was immediately condemned by Britain's Automobile Association as
"a hazard to the occupant and other road users."
Sales were minimal and production stopped within months. Sir Clive's
reputation as the distinguished inventor of cheap calculators and computers
was in tatters, his C5 a national joke.
A satirical song occasioned by the invention of the C5 contains the line
"don't want a Jag, don't want a Merc, I want to look like an absolute jerk."
I hate to admit it, but standing on a Segway zipping down the sidewalk seems
like kind of a jerkish thing to me. Why not walk or jog.
Here's an interesting chronicle of the C5:
- I would like to raise another angle on this device.
First, we should not underestimate the cleverness of the device as a
draw for purchase. The car, after all, had such compelling cleverness
that people have shaped their lives around it (how many houses in
suburbia have been sold to people needing a justification for owning a
Second, as a car-sharing provider, I can see a role for these devices as
a "neighbourhood utility vehicle" (NUV), at least one kind of one. It
would be limited to mid-length trips (walking is best at the smallest
scale, while various common carriers are best at longer distances -- the
car fails, in part, because it tries to function at _all_ scales,
unsuccessfully). Anyway, their high cost would mitigate personal
ownership by any but the high-income.
While cars that are shared must be reserved in advance -- and they are
clearly used for "extra-neighbourhood" trips, since they require the
user to walk to the centre of the neighbourhood just to access it --
these NUV could be used on an on-demand basis, similar to the "blue
bike" programs, that in most cases weren't sustainable.
What would make these HTs more appropriate is the high level of
electronics and the ease of being adapted to different body sizes and
the ease of use (no gears). They can also have lower speeds imposed
through electronic "governors." Any personal card with a magnetic strip
could be used to activate them, and their use records could be
transmitted to a central computer each evening. Their location could
also be electronically tracked.
And with the limited range, by keeping them within a single
neighbourhood, they wouldn't get enough use to run out of power (or the
various parking spots could all have plug ins -- one way to have the
user signal they are finished with the vehicle and thus end the
accumulation of a use-charge).
That would set the stage for more support for transit, as the best
inter-neighbourhood mode. And there would be other HT NUVs available at
the disembarking bus stop/station, rather than having to transport the
devices on buses, as would be the case if they were personally owned
(The same for people visiting downtown: there would be NUVs available
And then, intercity travel would be accessed at the city periphery
(airports) or centre (bus, train), again knowing that, at the other end,
there would be transit (for cities) or HT NUVs or bikes (towns and
village) or of course taxis.
For car-free districts, the HT NUV would be seen as, finally, a way to
allow the neighbours get around while barring cars from breaching the
perimeter. Those who can't identify with bikes, these would appear
- At 8:19 PM -0800 12/5/01, Ed Brighton wrote:
>In January 1985 British inventor Sir Clive Sinclair unveiled hisSounds like that was a good decision! Besides the visibility problem
>three-wheeled C5, a kind of surfboard tricycle in which plucky drivers lay
>on their backs and navigated the roads feet first.
>Powered by battery and pedaling, the low-profile vehicle was invisible to
>trucks. It was immediately condemned by Britain's Automobile Association as
>"a hazard to the occupant and other road users."
and the rider's proximity to exhaust pipes, I'd think that the lack
of a 4th wheel would make them fairly tippy.
I see recumbent bicycles once in a while and they strike me as the
sort of thing that's good in theory ("hey, it's the most efficient
possible use of the leg muscles") but which has too many drawbacks to
be much good in practice. The riders never seem to be enjoying
themselves. Segway may indeed turn out to be the same sort of device
(though fun for sure) but ohoh it seems to have been built with a
certain amount sensitivity to how it might work in the real world.
I really don't know much about the C5 or the Segway but I do see a
fundamental difference: the C5 was the logical end of a series of
ideas -- it doesn't seem to be much more than a recumbent tricycle
with an electric motor. The technology in the Segway, though, seems
to be much more of a starting point. Even folks who can't imagine the
HT gaining widespread acceptance still admit that the gyro-computer
self-righting action in itself is revolutionary, or that the extreme
maneuverability afforded by the single-axle design is bound to have
value beyond simple sidewalk surfing.