THE fairly pedestrian, excuse the pun, news that Queensland has become the first Australian state to legalise Segway use on footpaths and bicycle lanes have caused quite a stir in the local rag and among opposition politicians. Doomsayers have let loose with both barrels, conjuring up a range of dire predictions – from causing pedestrian carnage to promoting an obese population.
Meanwhile, in major cities around the world, tourists are happily exploring unforgettable attractions on cool technology in the company of knowledgeable guides… and giving rave reviews of their experiences!
What is a Segway?
A Segway is a two-wheeled personal transporter that uses electric propulsion and a balancing technology, called dynamic stabilisation, to transport the user over a variety of terrains. The user steers by way of a sensing technology. What this means is that the Segway senses the lean of the rider and applies torque to push it forward or slow it down.
Why do tourism operators use Segway?
In a nutshell? It is fun with a capital F! Segways are intuitive and fun to use. It gives the tourist a sense of speed and power while at the same time allowing access to areas off limits to cars and even bicycles.
It also adds tremendously to the excitement of a well conceived tourist route where a clever guide will meld his presentation with the benefits afforded by the Segway transport option to maximise the paying customer’s enjoyment and satisfaction.
Segways also give elderly travellers, previously hamstrung by mobility considerations, the opportunity to expand their itinerary considerably without concerns of excessive exertion.
Are they really worth the expense?
Segway tours have really taken off on a global scale. City Segway Tours in Paris, for example, offers guided morning, afternoon and evening tours that visit the Eiffel Tower, Napoleon’s Tomb, the Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, the Tuileries Garden and Champs-Elysees. The three-hour tour has been given an overwhelming thumbs-up by travellers, with TripAdvisor awarding the operator with a Certificate of Excellence (2013).
Segway tours are also available in countries as diverse as Antigua and Barbuda, Belgium, Egypt, Iceland, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
How do I learn to operate the Segway?
Most responsible operators will include a 30-minute orientation and training session in the price. Generally, the device will move forward or backward when you lean in that direction, or turn in the direction that you lean the handlebar.
Is it safe?
Like driving a car, riding a bicycle or even walking, Segway use poses potential hazards. These may include slipping, tripping or tipping over. Maximise your safety by following these tips:
- Wear a bicycle helmet with chin strap that protects the back of your head.
- Avoid obstacles (like kerbs or steps) and slippery surfaces (or steep slopes) that could affect balance or cause the Segway to lose traction
- Remain alert to warning sounds from the Segway that may warn of unsafe operating conditions and notify your tour leader
- Do not exceed 12km/h
- Ensure the Segway has a working bell or warning device
- Reflectors or lights are important for use during night tours or in weather with poor visibility
- Avoid turning when moving backwards
- Keep both feet on the platform, knees loose and slightly bent and hands firmly on the handlebar
While costly, Segway tours offer a viable tourism product and continue to receive rave reviews from happy travellers. Consider these companies during your next vacation:
Barcelona, Spain: Barcelona Segway Tour
Bodrum, Turkey: Bodrum Segway Tour
Bruges, Belgium: Moment Segway Tour
Cagliari, Italy: New Way Sardinia Tour
Cesky Krumov, Czech Republic: Segway Tour Cesky Krumlov
Dresden, Germany: Segway Tour Dresden
Dubrovnik, Croatia: Segway City Tour Dubrovnik
Krakow, Poland: Segway Tours Krakow
Lisbon, Portugal: Red Tour Lisbon
Lyon, France: Lyon Segway PT Tour by ComhiC
Nicosia, Cyprus: Segway Station Tour Experience
Munich, Germany: Segway Tour Munich
Paphos, Cyprus: Paphos Segway Tour
Rome, Italy: Rome Segway Tour
San Francisco, USA: Electric Tour Company Segway Tours
Seville, Spain: Segway Tour Andalucia
Split, Croatia: Segway Tour Split
Zagreb, Croatio: Segway City Tour Zagreb
- Qld government defends segways (bigpondnews.com)