Testimony in opposition to Bill 98

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And then there are Segways. Segways are in a word historic. If you canít recognize this at least you can recognize the fact that Segways have unique operating characteristics and have nothing to do with scooters. For goodness sakes they are so different that there is not even a throttle or brakes. People talk about how fast Segways go and miss the much bigger point. For the record their top speed in humans terms is running pace. However the genius of Segways, is they are the only machines that go zero miles an hour. Try to stand on a scooter or a bicycle when itís not moving and it falls over. A Segway is fully operational at 0 mph. To lump Segways in as scooters because they donít fit neatly into any category is in a word, unacceptable. This goes against both the spirit and culture of a great city that has always adapted to new ideas.

Unlike others here I talk from experience. I have 500 hours of experience on a Segway in NYC. It's important to note that this is 500 more hours than anyone at the DOT. 500 more hours more than anyone on the city council. 500 more hours than anyone in the mayorís office and 500 more hours experience than any of our cities well meaning activists. So my testimony is based on factual data and first hand experience. Not opinion.

Are Segways safe?
There are about 200 Segways in NYC and they have been operating for 18 months. At 10 hours a week, which is a fairly conservative use estimate, there are 150,000 Segway operating hours without one injury or one fatality.

In comparison in that same amount of time there have been 21,750 pedestrians seriously injured and 250 killed by automobiles in NYC.

But you're considering banning Segways.

Who benefits from Segways?
Segways can give the elderly and those with disabilities a dignity of movement that prior to Segway would be impossible to imagine. In fact the medical applications of this device have yet to be explored but they are clearly huge. I have spent a lot of time working with the elderly and showing them the machine. The oldest person I have a had on a Segway was 91 years old. The biggest problem was getting the machine back. Think about it. A walker or a Segway. Crutches or a Segway. A wheel chair or a Segway. But you want to ban them?

Can you at least recognize the disabled use?
Can you at least recognize the elederly's right to move around our city with a sense of dignity and mobility? Can you at least recognize how much safer we will all be with older citizens on Segways instead of behind the wheel of automobiles?

How much energy does a Segway use?
A Segway uses electricity, which means there is no tailpipe spewing pollution. But if you converted the energy it uses to a gasoline equivalent which Citystreets has had done it gets 450 mpg. 450 mpg. Since weíre not getting leadership on a national energy policy that reduces our nations reliance on foreign oil from WashingtonWhere is this leadership going to come from? From you. 450 mpg. This changes things. The city has never considered being in compliance with the clean air act. Now it can. How come we are not talking about this? Donít you know that in certain neighborhoods more than 25% of kids have asthma? 450 mpg.

But you are considering banning them?

So if Segways arenít scooters what are they?
Hereís one way to think and talk about them. At Citystreets we have begun to think of a new class of vehicle, one that isnít completely defined yet but whose working title is Urban Electric Vehicle. Segways fit neatly into this classification. They are clearly vehicles that are designed for cities unlike most of the cars on ours streets that that are designed for highway use and are totally out of context in our city.

What should we do?
Instead of banning Segways you should immediately initiate a 4-6 month study to and start evaluating them so you can begin to learn what Citystreets has an obvious head start on. You should talk to us privately so we can share our observations and experiences. We can help you solve the real issues, which is how to train people to operate Segways safely. How to integrate them into our city.

Cities have existed for thousands of years. Cars, which have transformed our landscape, have been around for a relatively short time. An evolutionary blip if you will. For years people have talked about reducing our reliance on automobiles because they know our addiction to cars is unsustainable. Others like Citystreets have focused on the public health threat posed by cars in our city. And now there are security reasons to reduce our nations oil use which means reducing car use. But Dean Kamen is the person who invented the worldís first self-balancing gyroscopic human transportation device that can allow us to stop thinking and start planning new ways to move around our city without relying on cars. History will view the period as the beginning of a new era. Specifically the end of civilizations automobile period. If you think I have been harsh. I am being kind to how history will judge you if you actually go through with your ill conceived plan that lacks vision and leadership and is against the interest of the people that you swore to serve.