Saturday, October 15, 2005

Segways: The Star Knows Best

"The much-hyped, two-wheeled Segway Human Transporter isn't welcome on Toronto streets..."

Says who?

The Saturday Star editorialists, says they.

"The law, in this case, makes sense. The Segway is capable of zipping down sidewalks at up to 20 km/h. A collision between the heavy machine, travelling at that speed, and a pedestrian could cause serious injury."

Electric mobility scooters can weigh 115 kilograms or way more and zoom along at up to 12 kph (that's the stated speed; frankly I think their users have installed turbo engines). They run rampant on our sidewalks, unfettered by laws. Bicycles are relatively light, but go at quite a clip, and riders routinely disobey traffic laws. Still, we built lanes for them. Lanes protect them from cars, but don't protect pedestrians from them. I guess this is all OK because it's existing tech, which The Star is used to.

"But that is another strike against the Segway: By serving as a substitute for walking, it replaces a form of healthy exercise with an energy-consuming ride."

Ahhh...now we come to the nub of the matter. The Star knows what's good for us. Just like years ago when they advocated culling the hordes of doctors -- because as you know health care costs were escalating because all doctors have munchausen by proxy and we're all champing at the bit to be their proxies not because the population is growing and aging and so commensurately are disease rates. Because The Star knew best, we're fatally short family doctors.

The Star conveniently ignores that many people use cars instead of their two feet for the grocery run, even in Toronto, or that some people can't walk far or that walking would be easier for short trips than Segways anwyay. Segways are a good replacement for the car and for those who bike but cannot on smoggy days. They're good for people who don't bike and drive instead and for people who aren't so disabled they need a wheelchair or scooter but could use an aid that would afford independence instead of hitching a ride. Because The Star knows best, will we be having more smog days in the future?

"In view of...their role in discouraging walking, there is no need to test drive Segways in Toronto." Saturday Star Editorial, 15 October 2005

"What a small, pitiful country. Very, very small." Marsha Bodary, Utica NY, Letters, Saturday Star 15 October 2005

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