The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

THE RIGHT WAY, THE WRONG WAY, AND THE SEGWAY
outta my way!
After nearly a year of built-up, secretive hype, the Segway transportation device is making its presence felt among the ultra-hip stratem of American (and probably world) society. These things have been promo-ed all over television, and outfits like the Postal Service are looking at utilizing them.

Will swarms of Segways buzzing up and down sidewalks soon be a common sight in major urban, or even suburban, settings? Well, as long as these suckers cost $5,000 a pop, not likely. But if/when the price point comes down to where more and more people can justify the purchase, we could be seeing a lot more of these things around inside the next, oh, five years.

That's good and bad news. Good news in that it could help with traffic congestion, even if slightly. Bad news in that it's one more thing for pedestrians to have to watch out for while walking along, and could potentially open up a world of legal suits and backtracking protective legislation.

It's hard to say what could happen without actually trying one of these things for yourself, and like I said, as long as it's 5 grand apiece for a gimmick gadget, not a whole lot of people will get the chance to experience them. It could be that they are amazingly maneuverable enough that they'd be no more dangerous than a bike or skateboard--but then, both those vehicles are prohibited from sidewalks. Is the Segway that different? I tend to doubt it. As responsive as it may be, it's still a vehicle. It's hard to imagine someone having more control over it than they would their own two feet.