August 01, 2003

Segway Inventor Dean Kamen and Sustainable Transport Groups Clash

Mr. Kamen evidently believes that Segway belongs on the sidewalk and that they are not safe to operate in the street in mixed traffic.

Having made this decision, the Segway Corporation placed itself into direct conflict with pedestrians and sustainable transport advocacy groups who are trying to protect already scarce public pedestrian space. Furthermore, by marketing the Segway as ‘Pedestrian Plus,’ it is likely that it will attract mostly former pedestrians, not former motorists. Hence, the Segway is not likely to improve air quality or decrease congestion.

Looking for common ground, TA and ITDP suggested to Mr. Kamen cooperative promotion of traffic-calmed streets where Segway operators, bicyclists, pedestrians, and motor vehicles could mingle safely. Evidently feeling it is easier to fight pedestrians than the highway lobby, Segway stood firm in its belief that the device belongs on the sidewalks, next to children playing, shoppers and public transit commuters.

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