A recent article from SFWeekly argues in favour of a ban by the San Francisco city council of the Segway from sidewalks and bike paths with the argument that people need more exercise. This has been one of the most common criticisms of the Segway; that it will allow lazy people to avoid even more much needed exercise.
First, I imagine that for many people, the Segway would replace the car for short drives more often than it would replace walking. For example, I have about a 7 minute drive to work, but it would take at least 30 minutes to walk. Should I walk? Maybe – but if so, then you should eat more vegetables (read: mind your own business).
I'm not going to walk a half hour to work everyday. Maybe I'm lazy – but I'm just not going to do it. I would take a Segway to work. Surely taking a Segway to work would be better than driving (fresh air, far more energy efficient).
The argument that Segway's are bad because they will prevent exercise seems to me to stand atop a slippery slope. Should we not use remote control on our TVs and VCRs because they keep us on our asses?
It has always struck me as odd that we pay people to mow our lawns (and shovel our driveways here in Canada), and then pay to work out in gyms. I've always thought that all those people in gyms could be mowing my lawn. It would be a win-win situation (synergastic!). That said – I don't think we should ban ride-on lawnmowers and force people to mow their own lawns.
To be fair, most people I've heard argue that Segways will be bad for our health don't take the argument so far as to suggest that they should be banned as a result.
I should also acknowledge that the author of the SFWeekly article was likely trying to provoke debate and responses like this one – fair enough. The author refers to the Segway as "ultimate American doomsday machine" and deems it a "national threat at least as grave as Iraq". He's clearly trying to ruffle feathers with hyperbole.
While, as a geek, I am enamoured with the Segway from the bits I've seen online, I don't think the biggest hurdle for the device will come from municipal law or health concerns. Rather, my biggest concern about owning a Segway would be looking like a huge dork. Though I imagine early roller-bladers would have had to contend with jeers form their four-wheel-per-foot comrades ("nice rocket boots, future boy!").
For now, I'll keep driving myself to work in my five-passenger, 2788-pound car each morning.