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States Clearing Path for Segway Scooter

June 24, 2002|Associated Press

The high-tech Segway scooter is still months away from being available to the public, and already half the states have speedily cleared a path by changing their laws to allow the electric-powered vehicle on sidewalks.

The manufacturer has waged a lobbying campaign at statehouses around the country, winning over lawmakers who see the Segway as a remarkable tool to ease congestion.

But worries are growing among doctors and others who fear that pedestrians will get hurt by the two-wheeled, 69-pound Segways as the machines zip around at up to 12.5 mph.

Until recently, all but three states barred motorized vehicles from sidewalks.

Now the path is clearer. Twenty-four states, including Florida, New Jersey, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin, have enacted Segway's proposals into law with surprising speed over the last six months. Legislation in four more states is awaiting governors' signatures.

Matt Dailida, who oversaw Segway's legislative efforts, said the goal was to lay the groundwork for a 21st century technology by sweeping aside 19th century laws.

The Segway dazzled lawmakers when it was demonstrated at state capitols, with many seeing the machine as a way to ease traffic, boost tourism and make business more productive.

But pedestrian advocates and doctors are warning about collisions and injuries, and they fear that the machines could be especially dangerous to children and the elderly. The consumer model, projected to cost $3,000, is about three times as fast as a speedy walker and stands about 3 feet high.

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