Monday, September 18, 2006

Segue to a Segway

There's a controversy brewing here in Silicon Valley over of all things, whether Segways (those miraculous two wheeled contraptions that were overhyped but still quite a nifty piece of technology, for those into that kind of thing). The big debate is whether these devices will be allowed on a local mixed use trail known as the Los Gatos Creek trail. Yes we worry about these things.

Apparently, there is a local business that gives tours of the trail on Segways and some of the locals are up in arms. Some people say that they have no role on the trail as they are motorized, and people are not expending any energy while riding these. However, California law (yes there is a law on the books for this) that designates these as pedestrian vehicles so therefore entitled to use of the trail.

Some people have said that these Segways are great replacements for automobiles, others say there are toys. Sometimes they are both. My personal feel is that the trails are meant for human powered movement, because the trail primarily serves a recreational purpose. The argument that anything that gets people out of cars is a good thing, agreed, but no one is driving their cars on the trail (Mr. Ranger excepted of course).

I am agressively ambivalent about this topic, in many ways I'd like to see Segways on the road duking it out with cars on local streets. They take up a lot less space than cars (though those nifty Smart Cars look really fun) but do we really need any other excuse to be lazy. it's not like people couldn't walk on the trail.

For short distances, we clearly need an alternative, but is it the Segway?


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