Dan Bricklin's Web Site: www.bricklin.com
Segways in Atlanta
Pictures and comments after visiting Atlanta where the Segway seems to fit in well with people downtown.
As part of my job at Interland I periodically have to travel to Atlanta. Interland has two main offices there, both of which I need to visit. They are about a 15 minute walk apart, and I walk it frequently through downtown Atlanta. On a recent visit I ran into a few people on Segways. Here are my impressions and some pictures.

In the spring of 2002, various organizations and companies in Atlanta, Georgia, decided to use Segway HTs. One of those is the Central Atlanta Progress Ambassador Force, which purchased six units for use downtown. That's the area where I need to walk. Here is what I saw on February 4-5, 2003:

 

 

One thing that really struck me was how everybody completely ignored the fact that these guys were on Segways. Except for people who needed help (who just asked for help and didn't say anything about the Segways apparently) people didn't even give them a second glance or try to avoid them. Looking up at the rider (since the Segway made him high enough that most people had to look up) was fine for asking directions, and reminded me of police on horseback in crowds, except they weren't so high and you didn't worry about the horse. The Ambassador would often lean down on the Segway handlebars when talking, bringing him down to eye level, like in the picture below. Here's also a picture of one of the hills in downtown Atlanta -- a good reason to use them when you have to carry stuff as part of your work. (It's a hill I had to walk up and down repeatedly carrying my computer bag and backpack with my overnight stuff -- huff and puff.)

 

Notice how little space the Segway takes up. I took this picture right after the rider rode by, without any problems among the walkers. The luggage takes up more space and is easier to trip over.


Talking to the Ambassador, I learned that it was no problem riding along in the rain. I also learned that they were supposed to be careful to not bother people with the Segways. It's clear to me that using the Segways the way they do (while they move at almost walking speed among people, they do move along at a reasonable clip when alone) fits in well in a city. People certainly get used to them. Hopefully having well trained, courteous riders like these set an example that others will follow for what makes "civilized" use of the Segways. My car can do over 70 mph, but I don't do it in the city streets. The Segways can do over 12 mph, but these guys don't do it with others around. I think starting with "official" people using them is the way to set examples for all to follow, any may be important to getting Segways accepted.

Here are some closer pictures. The side bags hold a jacket, extra batteries and tools for changing them, a heavy lock, etc. The top bag holds a water bottle, maps, and other stuff. He wears a helmet and a radio.

 

- Dan Bricklin, 6 February 2003

My other writings about the Segway:


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