Hi ho Segway ? awaaaaaay!

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By Rog Patterson

If your typical round trip in the trusty old gasoline guzzler is from one of our western Corridor communities to the S.R. 200 Wal-Mart and back or even a round trip to the Regal movie theater, you might be a Segway prospect.

What the heck is a Segway? It’s the result of a brainstorm Dean Kamen had years ago way up in snowy New Hampshire. And it is best described by having you look at this picture:

Step onto it and be surprised when several gyroscopes keep you upright and stable. Hold onto the T-bar grips and just lean forward slowly. The Segway eases slowly forward.

Lean slightly to your left and the Segway turns slightly to the left. Straighten up and you slow to a smooth stop. Kind of like dancing with your shadow.

At first, you’ll be comfortable at a “turtle pace,” but once you’re confident the Segway will do exactly what you ask of it – there’s more oomph available. All the way up to 12-miles an hour or “the pace of a brisk run” according to their sales booklet.

Lithium batteries last for a 24-mile round trip ee but also recharge en route coasting down all those hills you’ll encounter between here and there. Plug it into a plain old household socket and recharge for the price of a newspaper. That’s what the nifty sales brochure says.

The maker emphasizes its Segway is pedestrian friendly. So you can either amble along having a conversation with friends who are walking down the sidewalk or pick up the pace on “any road or street where the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or less.”

That’s right, you don’t have to drive in heavily trafficked roads like a bicyclist, according to 2007 Florida Statues. (But you must give pedestrians the right of way and also give “an audible signal before overtaking and passing” someone.)

In Florida, there’s no need for a driver’s license or vehicle registration, but an operator under the age of 16 must wear a bicycle helmet. Please note you should read the entire Florida Statute 316.2068 Electric Personal Assertive Mobility Devices for the full rules and regulations.

Note also that a county or municipality can prohibit a Segway and similar “mobility devices” in the interest of safety, despite the state’s okay.

On that point, Capt. Jim Burton of our Sheriff’s Southwest District office tells me he hasn’t had to deal with Segways yet. And, “We don’t usually deviate from the statutes.”

Inventor Kamen is an interesting fellow in his own right. Born in Rockville Centre, Long Island (my own home town) in 1951, Dean attended Worcester Poly Tech and, even though he didn’t graduate, he discovered New Hampshire was the next great place north.

Kamen stashed away a sufficient bank balance by inventing the AutoSyringe, a mobile dialysis system, and the insulin pump, to fund development of his further inventions, such as this Segway, out of his magic farm up there near Manchester.

The Segway PT shares catalog space with the Segway x2 cross country model, as well as a Segway i2 version specially equipped for police or commercial cargo use. Base price for the Segway PT is reportedly $5,100 and Harriet Showah is on the verge of adding one to her Marion Landing garage.

If you’d like a personal demo of the Segway PT or other models, or just more details, I’m sure Tobi will be tickled to have you give her a ring at 615-1640.

Rog Patterson is a Marion Landing resident, Friendship Kiwanis member and Citizen columnist. Contact him at smcnews@earthlink.net.