Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Segway Becomes More Attractive

Energy, Innovation, Just for fun!, THE ECONOMY

Remember the billboards that said IT was coming in 2001? The IT was the Segway, a "two-wheeled self-balancing vehicle that runs on a rechargeable battery." Although Steve Jobs and others "predicted it would change the way people lived," the IT came and at the time, it wowed the public about as much as the Edsel.

But times have changed since 2001. Gasoline prices are now higher--a fill up for our minivan then cost $35, today it can cost $80. People are looking for alternatives.

Segway Glides as Gasoline Jumps the Wall Street Journal reports. Obviously, this is not the solution to high gas prices for Wisconsin residents, but the article mentioned a few Segway owners who thought Segways made sense. (Maybe I should say, cents.

Scott Hervey of Yorba Linda, Calif., bought one of the electric scooters on June 7 and has put 150 miles on it commuting to his custodian's job at Disneyland, about 12 miles away. He had considered buying a Segway for four years, and gasoline prices finally drove him to do it. Now he "glides," as Segway enthusiasts say, to work. "I like passing gas stations," says the 54-year-old.

Segway's cost around $5,000 each. The user must be fairly agile and willing to expose themselves to the elements--and neighborhoods. Then there is the question of, where do you ride it? Sidewalk or street? Some communities ban them from sidewalks.

We were at Disney World the first year the Segway was released, so we saw them in action. Both my husband and son wanted one.  For specific uses, especially in large factories or businesses, I can see where they would be handy, quiet, and because they emit no exhaust, can be used indoors. I'm not sure they are the perfect commuting vehicle though. But it seems some people would disagree:

Sales at the scooter's maker, Segway Inc., have risen to an all-time high, says CEO Jim Norrod. The closely held Manchester, N.H., company doesn't release detailed numbers. (A September 2006 recall showed the company had sold 23,500 Segways.) But Mr. Norrod says he expects sales this quarter to jump 50% from a year earlier, versus a 25% year-over-year increase in the first quarter.

Among the new customers are local governments and universities whose budgets have been pinched at the gas pump. New York's Syracuse University and the University of Kansas say they bought Segways for their campus police this year, in part because of rising gasoline prices.

As gas prices continue to climb, some people will be looking at creative ways to ease their pain at the pump. I would think those motorized bicycles that the police and parking lot security use would gain in popularity too. Maybe people will finally decide a 30 mile commute to work is not the best idea. (In that case, Brookfield real estate should become more attractive because we are so close to the city.) But for the gizmo-loving customer with a large wallet in a temperate climate, the Segway may finally have hit its stride.


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