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La Mirada Bars Scooter-Like Vehicles on Sidewalks

Pedestrians can't move fast enough to elude the speedy, motorized Segways, officials say.

May 29, 2003|Hilda Munoz | Times Staff Writer

La Mirada this week became the second city in California to ban from sidewalks Segways, two-wheeled motorized vehicles that resemble scooters.

"Our sidewalks aren't able to accommodate Segways and pedestrians," La Mirada City Manager Andrea Travis said Wednesday, a day after the City Council enacted the ban. "There's a potential conflict with pedestrians because people aren't able to move out of their way quick enough."

The Segway, which debuted in 2001, has been hailed by its makers as a major advance in transportation. A series of gyroscopes stabilize the scooter and react to the driver's movements. Leaning slightly forward on the battery-powered scooter platform makes the device roll forward. It travels up to 12 mph and sells for about $4,950.

But some local governments have raised concerns about where the Segways should be allowed to travel.

State law classifies Segways as "electric personal assistive mobility devices" that are allowed on sidewalks. But cities have the ability to set their own restrictions.

San Francisco banned them from sidewalks throughout the city in December last year. Pasadena is considering a plan to prohibit them in crowded shopping districts like Old Pasadena.

Joseph Chiu, who commutes 3 1/2 miles a day to Old Pasadena on his Segway, wrote La Mirada officials a letter urging them not to ban the vehicles.

Chiu said that the Segway is easy to control and is much less of a safety problem than skateboards.

"The Segway is never going to be that affordable, and you're not going to have a bunch of kids running around on it," he said. "Even if you did, Segways are a lot more stable than skateboards."

Travis said that under La Mirada's action, Segways are still allowed inside gated communities, shopping centers and apartment buildings.

She said the ban is temporary until the city can create a space for the machines.

"We do believe that in the future, as we repair sidewalks we may want to look at widening the sidewalks," she said.

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