Ray Carson of Segway Eco Xperiences.
Ray Carson of Segway Eco Xperiences. Darryn Smith

Segway on paths divides opinion

THE image of Segways careening down crowded footpaths has sent a shiver up the spine of some pedestrians.

After all, 50kg projectiles of metal and plastic travelling 12kph could do a lot of damage to an unprotected human body.

Put them in the hands of a 13-year-old - as is now legally allowed under state law - or someone with no respect for the law and the results could be horrific.

But one man who knows more about the unusual vehicles than most, says we have little to fear - they're no more dangerous than pushbikes.

Segway Eco Xperiences director, Ray Carson, said the vehicles were safe if used properly.

"The safety tests that have been done throughout the world have proven that the injuries from collision on a Segway to a person is less than a pushbike to a person," Mr Carson said.

"It's a vehicle. You treat it as a vehicle, wear the helmet, do the right thing and you're going to be fine."

But he agreed there could be some danger if people used the machines incorrectly.

"I think there is (a danger) in some cases, things like shopping malls and places that are heavily congested," he said.

"You're always going to have the idiot factor of people actually hurting themselves on a Segway."

The council is still deciding how it will deal with Segways on Coast footpaths.

"Council is still to gauge the full impact that Segway use would potentially have on our pathway network," a spokesperson said.

"We do anticipate that there will be the potential for conflict between Segway users and pedestrians."

Community opinion is divided about the safety of Segways on footpaths.

The Sunshine Coast branch of the Association of Independent Retirees has already voiced concerns but there were mixed views in Mooloolaba yesterday from people using the popular beachfront pathway.

"I don't think that it's actually designed very well to have that," Mountain Creek's Jaiden Moloney said. "...there's families and children travelling up here on a daily basis. It should be included on the roadways, not on walkways."

But Melbourne tourist and former Mooloolaba resident CJ Churchill, said Segways and pedestrians should be able to share the pathways.

"I don't think it'd be very much different to a bicycle," Mr Churchill said.



Segways operate with gyroscopic motors and sensors which send readings to the machine's computer hundreds of times each second.

When the rider leans forward, the Segway applies motor torque to the wheel to propel itself forward in order to remain balanced.

Similarly when you lean back.

"All the machine wants to do is stay level," Segway Eco Xperiences Director Ray Carson said.

"The further you lean forward, the faster you will go."

The vehicles are powered by two large lithium batteries.



All Segway operators must be:

At least 12-years-old.

Wearing a helmet.

Travelling at a maximum speed of 12kmh.

Not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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