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Open letter regarding the Seqway human transporter

The Segway human transporter allowed on sidewalks is an accident and a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Emily Reilly, Ed Porter, Tim Fitzmaurice, Scott Kennedy, Mike Rotkin, Cynthia Mathews, Mark Primack
Santa Cruz City Council
Santa Cruz, California 95060

Open letter regarding Public safety, public liability and the Seqway human transporter.

I learned recently that the City Transportation Committee has voted to recommend to allow the use of the new Segway human transporter on city sidewalks. I encourage you to reject this recommendation. Bicycles are banned from the sidewalks in retail business zones for a very good reason - the safety of adult and children pedestrians entering, exiting and meandering between these retail businesses. The Segway is a full two feet wide, weighs 83 pounds and has a top speed of 12.5 MPH - this is wider and heavier than most bicycles. Unlike bicycles, there are no safety classes available to teach Segway drivers how to operate their vehicles safely. Allowing these motor vehicles to traverse the sidewalks is a tragic accident waiting to happen, particularly considering the large number of children and senior citizens who typically use the sidewalks downtown.

Please consider yourselves on notice that the city is looking down the barrel of a huge lawsuit. When somebody is injured and needs thousands of dollars of medical care, the City will be the deep pocket most available to pay these expenses. It will be years before the insurance companies offer "human transporter" insurance as they do car insurance, and years after that before the State legislature figures out that this insurance needs to be as mandatory as for automobile drivers.

Furthermore, if you don't limit Segway vehicles to the streets now, if you wait for that first lawsuit, it will be too late. By then there will be too many Segway owners who by then will be conditioned to believe that they have a right to the sidewalks, who will use their political / financial power, backed by the then established Segway dealers and Segway owners associations to fight for their "rights" to dominate the few remaining pedestrian spaces. Far from encouraging people to get out of their cars, the net end result would be the opposite - greater fear of injury and a perception of a greater need for protection in the form of an internal combustion metal box on wheels.

Do the right thing and do it soon.

Thank you for your careful consideration of this issue.


Paul Franklin

cc: City Manager Dick Wilson
City Risk Management Office
City Transportation Committee
County Transportation Committee
The Alarm Newspaper
Independent Media Center
Metro SC
SC Sentinel Newspaper
Good Times
SC Bikes email list

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Too Much Competition for Sidewalks

I must agree with Paul Franklin's comments about the potential dangers threatened by the Segway transportation device. As it is, pedestrians are at the lowest rung of the transportational pecking order and are already at risk on sidewalks from speeding skateboarders and bicyclists who insist on riding on the sidewalk regardless of the presence of bike lanes which are frequently right along side. If you add in the occasional motorized wheelchair, you have quite a traffic hazzard of which pedestrians are the most likely victims. While there are laws which require bicyclists to ride in the street where bike lanes exist, the laws are seldom, if ever, enforced. The same applies to skaters who use sidewalks in the Downtown area. Tossing the Segway into this volatile mix makes no sense.
The inventor of the Segway considers it an improvement upon walking, as if exercise were somehow suddenly outmoded. If one is travelling a considerable distance, a bicycle or motor vehicle is far more practical. If one is not disabled, why would one want to ride a device such as the Segway for short distances rather than walk? I believe it is a solution for a problem which doesn't exist and would be itself the cause of new problems.
If the Segway is permitted in Santa Cruz, it should share the bike lanes with bicyclists, if the bicyclist can be induced into using them.


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