San Francisco bans the latest transport sensation
- San Francisco bans Segways on sidewalks, bike paths
By Carlton Reid, BikeBiz.co.uk
Posted: 24/12/2002 at 10:23 GMT
Last Monday (Dec 16) San Francisco civic leaders voted 8-2 to bar
the use of Segways on footways and cyclepaths.
This is the first serious obstacle to inventor Dean
Kamen's "pedestrian-friendly" "sidewalk interloper".
The ban is welcomed by Matt Smith, a columnist on San Francisco
Weekly. In a hard-hitting polemic, he called the Segway " the
ultimate American doomsday machine," potentially responsible for
a "tsunami of lard."
He said the Segway is "a national threat at least as grave as Iraq:
It's a high-technology lard-making device introduced at a moment
when America is suffocating from obesity."
When The Register ran a fatties-rejoice Segway goes on sale article
last month, the author of the piece (me) was inundated with emails
from Americans who said the portrayal of US citizens as flabby to be
well wide of the mark.
So imagine the abuse Matt Smith is going to get.
"Fat, rosy cheeks. Ample alabaster bellies. Arms that flap, legs
that waddle, bodies by the million shaking like bowls of jelly."
That's his description of average Americans.
The last thing fat Americans need is a device that allows them to
walk even less than they already do, said Smith. Legislators of San
Francisco should be congratulated, he said.
Mayoral spokesman P.J. Johnston said the ban "sends a defeatist
message from San Francisco to the rest of the world. We're going to
be the first city in the country to send out the message that we're
afraid of this product, rather than embracing new technologies and
new forms of transportation. It says we're so fearful that we don't
even want to contemplate
And it's not just because of the laziness potential of the device:
the claim that it's pedestrian-friendly and will always stop before
crashing into fellow sidewalk users was poo-poohed by Smith. There's
evidence that Segway supporters have crashed into walls in San
Francisco, damaging civic property, he claims.
San Francisco's cycle advocacy group, the San Francisco Bicycle
Coalition, had hoped Segway LLC would put its lobbying cash behind
building more Segway-friendly cycle paths. But the corporation
declined, arguing the 12-mph devices should be allowed on sidewalks.
In San Francisco, where people still use the sidewalks, this appears
to have led to Segway Corp's downfall. © BikeBiz.co.uk