Segway at your own risk

Segways are most popular among mall cops. The only other people who use them are, maybe, tourists on the beach who don’t want to walk. However, if you didn’t want to ride them before because they were un-cool, now, you won’t want to ride them because they can kill you.

On Sept. 27, a sad story was reported in the news.  Jimi Heselden, laid-off coal miner who became a self-made millionaire and bought SEGWAY, INC. was found dead at the bottom of a cliff in London, with his Segway at his side. Details are unclear, but a witness saw the man fall 30 feet from the River Wharfe cliff, where he had been cruising on his segway.  Although it’s tragic that this man is dead, and in no way do I intend on joking about that, this does bring up an alarming question: Huh?

This wasn’t some Joe Schmoe. It was the owner of the company. If anyone should know how to handle one of these bad boys, and feel completely safe, shouldn’t it be him? Remember all the Toyota recalls? Those cars were pretty dangerous, but nothing happened to the owner. So, what does this say about the safety of the vehicle?

Accidents happen. God forbid, but you could die in your sleep from some freak accident like a bird crashing through your window and knocking down the chandelier hanging over your head. I don’t know. Stuff happens. But, this death on a Segway seems ironic. This is the invention that was supposed to revolutionize transportation. I’m surprised it wasn’t a bigger hit in the United States where, more and more, walking to get the mail seems like a tedious chore to some people. Let’s face it: People are lazy.

There are environmental advan-tages to the Segway. SEGWAY, INC. says that their device is 11 times more efficient than the average American car, and it has no emissions. Still, the crafty Segway only became popular with some police departments and private security firms who use them to patrol the mean corridors of neighborhood shopping malls.

Maybe they didn’t become more popular because their safety has often been questioned. Aside from this latest incident, there have been other examples of the negative consequences to boarding one of these death traps. There is an elusive YouTube video of President George W. Bush having quite a mishap on a Segway. Just do yourself a favor and YouTube “Segway accidents.” It’s like an “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” best of, episode. But despite all the accidents, there haven’t been that many Segway related deaths  and that’s what makes this occurrence so bizarre.

In 2006, SEGWAY, INC. recalled its product because a problem with the software was causing owners to suddenly reverse the direction of the wheels, causing riders to fall off. New Jersey lawyer Samuel Davis said the Segways are difficult to control and are not that stable. They also don’t do well on gravel or bumpy surfaces. Others, however, swear by the product, claiming they have never had any accidents, and that the product is safe as long as riders adhere to its limitations.

So the decision is entirely up to you. Perhaps, this casualty will popularize the device with daredevils seeking their latest thrill once skateboarding, motocross, or skydiving have lost its charm. As for me, I will stay away from Segways, because I cherish my life, and call me crazy, but I like walking.

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