Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?

Two Segway entrepreneurs have their sights on Yosemite and Sequoia national parks as the next frontier for these two-wheeled contraptions. Steve Steinberg and Darren Romar, who operate Segway of Oakland, want to offer fleets of these "human transporters" to the two parks.

"We want to expand rental operations into the U.S. National Park Service, and we're ready to take on bigger things like Yosemite," Mr. Steinberg said in a PR release. "Our goal is to work out partnerships where we supply Segway units to start your own turnkey operation, and support for when you are running the operation. We are already looking into a partnership with a concessionaire and we are excited about the Parks. We can only take on so many locations, but right now we're looking for good partnerships"

Of course, the rhetorical question is whether Yosemite and Sequoia and other national parks need Segways tooling around their roads? Another question is why the National Park Service would want to invite Segways into the parks?

It wasn't too long ago that former NPS Director Fran Mainella was touting the healthy benefits of recreation in the parks. It was back in June of 2006 when Ms. Mainella talked about the Park Service's efforts to "advance the physical and mental health of the American public by encouraging additional, appropriate physical activity during visits to national park units."

Riding a Segway around a park doesn't exactly seem terribly physical.

Beyond that, can anyone demonstrate a need to do away with the traditional ranger-led tour of a park? Or are we to assume that rangers will continue to lead tours, but only involving herds of Segwayians? Of course, the savvy Segway fleet owner could equip his units with "electronic rangers" and do away with the living and breathing ranger entirely.

Seriously, though, do we really need to add to the congestion that already exists in Yosemite Valley, where cars, hikers, joggers, cyclists and regular pedestrians already eat up most of the available ground space? Should the Park Service be advocating against walking and hiking? Should the agency be encouraging younger generations to avoid using their feet to explore the parks?

In their drive to "take on" the national parks, will Messieurs Steinberg and Romar lobby to see that Segways gain access to paved trails? And if that's accomplished, will they then outfit Segways with more rugged, knobby tires to conquer hiking trails?

Perhaps there are places in the national park system where Segways make sense, but I hope the Park Service doesn't believe Yosemite, Sequoia, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and the other 54 "national parks" are among them.

Comments

Please do not allow segways in parks- thanks

Allowing Segways in our National Parks is one of the dumbest ideas that ever came down the pike. Perhaps a case could be made for allowing disabled people to use them, in which case the Segways should be clearly marked as conveyances for the physically disabled. Being overweight and lazy should not be an acceptable excuse for using a Segway in a national park. If you want to lead the lardass parade -- in a park or anywhere else -- you should do it on foot.

No, no, no, no and no.

"Perhaps there are places in the national park system where Segways make sense..." That'll be another no.

Segways, the conveyance of the future. That is all well and good. I can see ones with handicaps using such a vehicle to get around in. I understand that. But.....National Parks!!! Please. The object of a National Park and the reason so many of us go there is to see and experience the outdoors. Which means walking, using those 2 branches of the human body that the "Big guy upstairs" gave us. For so many people and so much of government agencies touting "health" and all that it can give us, why then would this be a good thing. Wouldn't this be a "step" backwards? A step mind you, not on wheels....which is the whole point isn't it?

They are more environmentally friendlier than cars and motorcycles. If they could be used in such a way to cut automotive congestion in the parks, I'm for it. Also, they would be a handy tool for park rangers in certain areas. The Chicago police department use them to patrol the city parks.

Let's be realistic here.

Segways are not an off-road vehicle. I doubt they can even go on a lawn, much less a trail.

So, that limits their use to the following:
-- roads
-- sidewalks
-- paved or well-graded interpretive trails

I made my visit to Yosemite this past fall, and I don't recall too many well-graded interpretive trails. In fact, I remember none, but I didn't go everywhere.

So that leaves roads and sidewalks. And, based on my relatively off-season (early October) visit, there wasn't a heck of a lot of room on those, either.

From a practical perspective, there's nothing "park related" that can be done on a Segway in Yosemite, nor most of the other parks I've ever been to. You can't go into the woods, you can't see the sites, Segways don't help you experience the natural wonders at these sites. So, the only purpose would be to play with toys and joy ride. Those are activities that can be done anywhere.

The park system has many missions, one of which is preserving the natural beauty of specific places for appreciation by the public. Segways don't enhance that mission at all.

I could possibly see Segways on the carriage trails in Acadia, but they're hilly, I don't know how the Segway does on hills. Otherwise, I can't think of a park where Segways could help in the appreciation of nature.

OTOH, I could see them being useful in places like Gettysburg or Antietam or other historical sites, but in those cases, you're also sharing roads with locals. I'm sure they'd love to see hoardes of Segways clogging traffic during lunch hour ...

Maybe they need to have baskets on them also so people can carry their candy, cigarettes, soda and Big Macs around.

Just, please make then available for the Handicap!!

I see a perfect place for these – as an alternative to the summer shuttle in Zion (or other shuttle-only roads). But the rental must be economical – and not Xanterra economical, either.

Might as well throw another tire on the fire. Another not very brilliant idea actually receives the validity of controversy. Must we really even entertain this hair- brained idea? There is no practical use for a segway in the parks. The Handicapped can't stand on a segway, and if they can, they should just walk or take a shuttle.

Segways are toys. They aren't transportation. They aren't for the handicapped. Little old ladies who need wheelchairs because of their hip replacements or osteoporosis won't be using Segways as an alternative.

Segways are just toys. Take them to your city park to play, but don't put up another building housing another concessionaire or more paved trails so that people who want to play with a toy have another place to play with a toy.

Segways in the National Parks...how tacky! Next we'll have conveyor belts to help the super obese get their fat butts around the parks. Parks are for wholesome exercise: physically, mentally and spiritually.

This fall I was on the waterfront of the SF Maritime museum building that is being renovated and Golden Gate Park. I was enjoying a very nice evening walk along with several other walkers/runners when along came a Segway tour. I can only assume this group had a commercial use permit to operate within the park. This tour didn't slow down or detour and actually the tour leader honked a horn at those of us in his way and shouted as us to move! How's that for a friendly tour? If this is the future of the Segway in the NPS I say no way in addition to all of the other reasons stated above.
Also, if you've ever had the chance to be on a Segway, you might find out that they might make parks more accessible for some with disabilities, but many will not be able to use them due to the stamina and fine motor skills needed to operate them. As it has been pointed out you must stand and in addition have excellent balance since the movements are controlled by the operator leaning forward, backward and twisting side to side.

Wow kurt you have brought out the longest list of comments on any article i have read so far. good job. segways like many products have a place in the market, is the National Parks a viable market? maybe. would it be better to fire up a 4x4 pickup truck to run next door or use a segway? less fuel no pollution. Do we need segways running around a park like mopeds on a island in the caribbean? NO.

It is wrong., goes against my personal ethics that Our National Parks are considered a source of profit for private corporations.

I agree with all the other previous posters here. However, should we ask the reason that people visit the parks? I used to look down on people who experience the park from the inside of their car, or those who never venture more than 100 feet away from their motor homes.

Is the goal for people to get value out of their park? Yes. Can people get value from Yosemite without ever leaving a car? Yes. Can people enjoy Lake Mead while drinking beer in a motor boat? Yes. These people may not get as much value as people who go for a hike or camp in the backcountry. Personally, I would say that you can't really experience a park unless you get out in it, (e.g., going for a hike), and that drinking beer in a motor boat on Lake Mead is not the best way to experience one's park, but I can't say whether those other uses of a park are necessarily wrong or bad. It may not be the perfect way to do so, and I would say that people who ride a Segway around Yosemite Valley would not get as much out of it as I would on a hike.

So, NO, I don't think Segways are a worthwhile way for somebody to "experience their America." At least not for me, but if somebody gets some extra appreciation of Yosemite while riding on a Segway, is that a bad thing?

I cringe at the thought of hordes of Segways jostling for position in Yosemite - or any other large park - while the operators make a mint. They would be a nice alternative to the eternal traffic jam at Cades Cove in Great Smokies, though, if done properly.
---
jr_ranger
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." - Emerson
http://tntrailhead.blogspot.com

I absolutely love the National Parks. Although Yosemite is amazingly beautiful, it does not rank in my top ten favorite parks as it does for many people. Why not? It was too crowded. Adding Segways would only contribute to the congestion and detract from the purpose of National Parks and the beauty that they preserve. We need to encourage the National Park Service to prohibit Segways from becoming a part of the National Park System.

No, A simple answer to a simple question.

One of the reasons people go to National Parks is to escape the noise and hubbub of everyday life which I believe is one of the reasons the parks are becoming more and more crowded. If they add Segways, they may as well start adding carnival rides, Starbucks, shopping malls, and start tearing up beautiful land for condos and Qwik-E marts.... We need areas where we can escape this. I wouldn't want to see them in Cades Cove either. I don't know if I'd want to ride a Segway through there anyway with the higher bear activity - "Meals on Wheels". Sometimes I get nervous just riding my bike in there.

For Cades Cove and maybe other parks where people just like to ride through and look, stopping occasionally, I think a sort of electric trolley or bus system where you sat facing out. You would pay fare like a bus and it would have certain stops. Though I have not visited Yosemite yet, I know that in the Smokies, most people drive through the park stopping at different points of interest such as historical buildings, overlooks and trailheads. We usually hit Cades Cove very early in the a.m. to avoid the long lines of traffic. I don't know if something like a trolley would help eliminate it but many of the vehicles going through there only have a few people in them and maybe by taking larger groups through at different times would help restore some of the peacefulness of the area, eliminate congestion and maybe generate some revenue....

There once was a Jetson named Judy,
But modernity made her quite moody.
Said she, "In Yosemite,
You must use each extremity...
Yes, to walk in the park is our duty!"

(C) 2008, Jon T. Merryman, All rights reversed.

Almost all of the comments so far are clearly from people who have never been on a Segway and know nothing about them.

Let's clear up some misconceptions:

- You do not have to balance a Segway; it balances itself.
- Segways are smaller, quieter, safer and more environmentally-friendly than many other types of "contraptions" that are allowed in national parks, including cars.
- Segways are smaller, go slower, stop faster, turn more safely, and more-easily blend into pedestrian traffic than bicycles.
- Segways make almost no noise. The ratcheting sound of a coasting bicycle is louder.
- Segways handle hills and loose terrains just fine.
- Segways can have a handlebar bag to carry purses, packages, cameras, cell phones, and other material that would otherwise cause a safety hazard.
- Segways are recognized in at least 42 states as "Electric personal assistive mobility devices" (or EPAMDs) and are not classified as motor vehicles.
- There are lots of people who can stand but have trouble walking, balancing, bending or sitting. Victims of Multiple Sclerosis, Postpolio Syndrom, Altzeimers, and amputees, are among those who use Segways to improve their mobility. If it seems odd to you that such people can or would use Segways, then that should tell you how little you know about Segways! Do a little research at http://www.draft.org, among others, before spouting off.
- Segways can also be fitted with a seat for those who have a different kind of disability.
- There are many "for-profit companies" that operate tours and other businesses in national parks using conveyances other than Segways.
- Segways allow riders to enjoy not just the sights but also the sounds and smells of national parks without being cooped up in a car and contributing to the problems.
- Segway riders pay taxes too.

What do you think banning Segways would solve? Do you expect (or demand) that those people will not visit national parks at all?? No, many of them will get in a _CAR_ instead. Duh. That won't solve congestion, pollution, parking, or noise problems, only exacerbate them.

The same people who call Segway riders fat and lazy seem to have no objections to fast-food eaters riding around a national park in a car or motorcyle, burning fossil fuels, generating noxious emissions, making much more noise, and causing much more congestion. If their complaints about Segways were sincere, then those who claim that you should be getting exercise in a national park would be arguing just as strongly against every other kind of conveyance. But, of course, they don't. People are simply afraid of what they don't know.

It would make just as much sense to complain that people with RED cars shouldn't be allowed in national parks because the mere sight of them offends you.

Get over it.

Actually they're toys for tikes! For god sakes fat Americans...start walking & hiking more!

I'm 6'5", 200 lbs, and in good health but I ride a Segway because I have bad knees ... and because it is cheap, green, and efficient way to get around. I too like to experience the national parks that my taxes pay for ... if you judgmental people don't mind too much, that is! What nerve.

You don't know anything about me but you can't make a reasoned and informed argument for your position so you resort to all you have left -- name calling.

Easy Bob! No offense, just trying to make a point. Bob, just take a hard look at your local supermarkets, the shopping malls and parks...most Americans are horribly over weight...and out of shape! Why? I just assume for two basic reasons: diet and lack of a good exercise regimen. We have many allied medical professionals out there that warn us of a pending epidemic in the future of young folks that will be most prone to heart disease, diabetes and crippling orthopedic problems from being severely over weight. We need a full comprehensive physical fittest program on the national level to get this point across and put into place. Maybe we can start at the National Parks level and start breathing in some clean air and take in some good rugged hikes.
In your case, I have compassion for your physical demise and I wish you well. It's that I'm really worried and deeply concerned about the lazy younger generation. Shouldn't we all?

My previous response was not cleared by the moderators for some reason so I will try again.

If you are asserting that Segway riders have worse weight/health issues than people who ride in cars, motorcycles, RVs, etc., then I'd be interested in any evidence that you have to that effect. If not, what is the relevance of your observation in a discussion about whether one (and only one) of those conveyances should be banned in national parks?

In other words, why is the poor health of the entire population justification for banning one segment of that population and not the others?

I think all this hatred towards the Segway is true ignorance. Finally an invention has come along that not only makes life easier, cheaper, and safer, but it asks nothing of us, and here you are rejecting it. The Segway is like that "nice guy who finishes last".

Let me make some points of ignorance:

1. "It's for Lazy People." FALSE: Standing, leaning back and forth, and keeping balance for 15 minutes+ threw changes in terrain requires a lot more energy then sitting in a car. Maybe not as much as walking, but would you really walk 2 miles for a gallon of milk, or are you going to drive? That's right you lazy polluting jerks. You're gonna jump in your car.

2. "It's for Rich people" FALSE: Since when is a $5000 scooter (that requires no further costs, no fuel, registration, insurance, license, or mechanical maintenance) for "rich" people, yet a $12,000 motorcycles are for the average blue collar American?

In conclusion, it is in my personal experience that owning and driving a car is many times more stressful, more dangerous, more extravagant, unnecessary, and more expensive for the average American , and we don't even realize it. It's like a dimension we can't see. I ride a Segway (3 years now) and rent cars when I need one. I spend less money then EVERYONE I know on transportation and I'm always driving something nice.

DISCLAIMER: I work and live with in 4 miles of each other. However, I refused to get work outside of a 5 mile radius from where I live.

i been walkin trails since i could walk!!! it crazy that you would want to roll instead of useing your good ole legs
leave your stuff inside and hit the trail running feet first!!

I still call it a fat man's toy. If you can't walk your dead!

Walking is beter for you, of course.

It seems that you'd have to watch the trail constantly rather than lifting your head and eyes to view the sights around you on a bike trail. No?

Except for those with bad knees, back, etc., why? What's the point of it?

"It seems that you'd have to watch the trail constantly rather than lifting your head and eyes to view the sights around you on a bike trail. No?"

No. Why don't you try it before forming an opinion? Do you constantly watch the ground when riding a bike?

"What's the point of it?"

It is fun, inexpensive to operate, consumes no fossil fuel, produces no fumes, is quieter and safer than a bicycle, and requires no maintenance. Why not?

Well this "lardass" also happens to be diagnosed with ms.... So does my "lardass" status discount my disabled status????? Rude and tactless people like yourself make going out in public with obvious disabilities that much harder... You look and see a "lardass" and not a person who has been fighting ms and fatigue that continues to add to weight problems... Guess fat people should just stay at home or out of the national parks at least right? Traveling the national parks is a passion of mine and this disease has slowed me down... Segways would be rather helpful along with any other scooter/mobility device that could handle the long distances and cover rugged terrain.

I'm open to argument on the issue of persons with physical disabilities being allowed to use Segways in the national parks. That's why I used the word "perhaps" in my comment. Anon has made a strong case for it. I realize that dealing with ms is very difficult, and I do wish him the very best.

This method of conveyance adds nothing to the NPS. As is currently stands, the vast majority of visitors come only to "see" the parks, and if that is to be ones specific intent, the Segways might have a limited market. However, the real pleasure and benefit of visitiing any NPS unit is the "experience" one gains from explorations beyond the parking lots and campgrounds, to which these vehicles are impractical, ill-equipped and dangerous. I don't think you can adequately outfit the current version of this contraption, as engineered, and have any hope for successful navigation on the vast majority of current hiking trails Kurt. If that is indeed the intent of the promoters, to have their units traversing the South Kaibab, etc. then the Apocalypse is indeed at hand. I sincerely hope whoever might be the test pilot for such a lame-brained stunt has their life insurance paid in full by these same promoters in advance. And if we get to the point where "Segway Trails" are to be built, and my tax dollars are involved, somebody's in for the legal battle of their life.

I cannot believe the number of thoughtless people out there. I have a degree in zoology and used to be an avid bird watcher and hiker, an avid lover of all things wild. Five years ago I was diagnosed with MS and have now become basically housebound. I can manage to get to work and the store, but can't even take a walk in my neighborhood. What REALLY hurts is that I thought I would never be able to again enjoy the wilder areas and national parks. Then I discovered that Segway makes an off-road version of the popular people mover. These are NOT toys. And many people like me are able to stand, but walking while dragging one fairly useless leg means I can't really go far. So, the feasibility of again being able to get out and see the semi-wild areas has lifted my spirits. I realize I will never be able to again visit really wild areas, but the maintained trails in the national parks would certainly be possible on one of these off-road Segway models. Technology can give me back a little of what I have lost, as long as self-righteous clods don't legislate us to the "back of the bus".

It's a motorized vehicle. NO. How is this different that a motorized scooter or bike? There's a reason bike paths don't allow motorized vehicles. It's to keep the speed down to make it safe for others. If you're handicapped, maybe, like in the case of a motorized wheelchair. Otherwise, get off your ass and walk or peddle. This is nuts. I liked the comment from whoever it was that said that they should have baskets to carry their candy bars and Big Macs. Bike trails is for health exercise, not electric motorized vehicles. Get a car and stay on the road if you want a powered vehicle. Yosemite has no place for motorized vehicles on bike paths.

Well said, Anonymous. And I'm all for your excitement of being able to see what before wasnt accessable to you and others. I have a Segway with knobby tires and is built for off road use. Its quiet, eco-friendly, and not much wider than your backpacker (with his candy bars). Although I'm healthy, I wonder whos business is it that one should get excercise while enjoying nature? Go to a gym to work those 2 branches! I get the feeling that the bored, envious, or just whiners are going to protest. Enjoy your walk, jog, or bike and I'll enjoy my glide. God Bless America~Land of the Free

I'm observing more and more Cynicism, people who think with their subjective view is the right one makes me wonder if they think this planet and other lives on it are theirs to dictate. These parks are for all, not just the ones with the preconceived notion that what they think the parks are for. We need to quit trying to dictate what others should be doing. The land is for all of us to experience, not just what one or a group of people thinks their experience should be. The concept of Freedom is being pushed more and more out. This land is all of ours, not just one or a group of persons. Keeping an open mind isn't that tough, preconception of what will happen is prejudice. If we think that we are entitled to our individual right for peace and tranquility and the other doesn't have a right to ride a Segway. We have stepped out of our personal zone and trampled on another’s. We all have a right don't we? If someone thinks that the other one doesn't have a right to choose then we're moving towards a Communist country.

Mark who wrote "it's a motorized vehicle. NO." Nice observation Mark, I see you see things in Black or White only. Such an open mind you haven't. Your analogy of no motorized vehicles on bike paths to keep speed down to keep it safe for others. Bikes travel faster than Segways, bikes can travel up to 30 MPH while Segways are limited to 12 MPH. Nice try...or was it? I usually insist that others do their own homework but, we all need a helping hand once in awhile.

I challenge everyone to let go of the 'Controlling Attitude', this is what America is about. Give others a chance, many more are as much intelligent, responsible and respectful as you...in fact the majority. I have a simple analogy myself; we all know we don't need the Speed limit signs, it's the few that ruin it for the rest. That's always going to be that way, laws and rules don't fix things.

To introduce a few things about myself, i have been backpacking, rock climbing, ice climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, and road biking for the majority of my life. Everywhere from Yosemite to Chennai (formally Madras in India). I love tossing on my pack and walking off into the woods for a week or two as often as possible. I do not own a Segway, but would if i could afford one, not because i am lazy, fat or our of shape. but because they are simple a different way to enjoy your surroundings as well as something to be enjoyed all on its own. i have spent some time riding them around. Bob pointed out many truths about the segway.

the average speed of a mountain biker on single track is 12 mile per hour, and they go much faster when their path is more than a foot and a half wide. segways max speed is 12 mph. a segway also does not take up any more ground space then a person standing (by design). My Jamis takes up a fair bit more.

What is most important here is people being able to experience the parks the way they choose too, so long as they are not destroying the parks. which i see no way a segway destroys the park any more than a person on foot or a bike. The inventer of the segway Dean Kamen invented the segway not get rid of walking. He made it so people who get in their cars to drive 2 miles would have some other solution that isnt a bike. after all bikes have been around over a hundred years yet hundreds of millions of people still get in their cars and drive 2 miles to do what ever, the segway offers two new things for national parks.

A new way to experience the parks, which means possibly seeing more encouraging people to come back and explore the great outdoors even further.

it also gives people a new fun and safe means to see the parks that doesnt involve driving a car or motorcycle. the segway is a new solution to get people to stop driving cars where they dont need to be driven, it isnt like those people havent ever seen a bike, or are unaware of the troubles that face the environment today.

correcting a few things, if a segway hits a person, everyone gets hurt and the segway stops. this isnt a train hitting a house cat. Riding a segway is work, just watch the documentary 10mph, and see how tired that guy is each day. i have been avoiding stereotypes here, but i have never seen an "lardass" riding a segway actually.

What makes an experience more than anything else are the people. if we are friendly, respectful and enoy of each others company it doesnt matter if someone is jogging or on a bike or a segway, everyone should have a wonderful positive experience. it is when people turn sour toward each other that our experiences at the national parks are ruined.

I would venture to say that I have visited and hiked more of the National Parks and National Park Units than anyone else who has made comment here. I have been to 51 or the 58 actual designated "National Parks" plus I have been to over 200 other National Park Units. I have been to parks from the USS Arizona in Hawaii to the St. Croix Island National Historic area in Maine. I have been from Denali to the Dry Tortugas.

If the question is do Segways have a place for use in the National Parks of America, the answer is ABSOLUTELY YES!. I have hiked as many or more miles of National Park trails as anyone, yet I still see the value in the alternative the Segway can provide. I am in my late 50s now and I foresee the fact that it is going to become more difficult for me...and many others of similar or older age...to make those 8-10-12 mile hikes. Are you going to buzzing up to the peak of Half Dome or down the Bright Angel Trail on a Segway? Probably not. (though I am not sure that a Segway is any worse than a burro).
But would a controlled, guided, trained tour or people over 60 along the Rim Trail be all that obnoxious?
What about a Segway making its way down the Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park? They take up less space and go slower than a bicycle. If I were sharing that path I would rather be hit by someone going 12 mph on a Segway...which is designed to stop when it meets an obstruction...than I would by a teenager on a bike.
There are many trails, paved or otherwise in our Battlefield parks that would be very amenable to Segway tours.
For those of you who want to play the role of Battle of the Bulge policeman, I suggest that there is much more fodder for your concern in every corner of America other than our National Parks. As mentioned by many others, many of those cars that jam the roads of our National Parks are full of junk food junkies that don't get out and walk the trails of the park. I would rather get them out of their cars and onto a Segway.
Certainly a Segway would be preferable, ecologically and serenity wise than a motorcycle or a snowmobile.
Should they be banned? No. Should they be utilized on regulated tours...even Ranger conducted ones? Absolutely. Should anyone be allowed to use them anywhere on any trail in our parks? No. But just like bikes or skis or snowboards or any other kind of device, the use of a Segway could open up our parks to any number of people who otherwise wouldn't be able to enjoy them.
Plus, think about an area like The Mall in Washington D.C. That area is itself a National Park unit, surrounded by many other National Park units. Have you ever had to pound the pavement seeing all those attractions? I have, and I have had the resulting blisters and infections from them to show for it. I believe they already have Segway tours around those parks. Expanding their use elsewhere would make sense. Plus, I have taken a number of tours in our parks in busses or vans operated by private companies....such as Xanterra or Aramark or whoever. Opening up this venue to other concessionaires shouldn't be objectionable to anyone.

I think segways are neat and look like a lot of fun.
Its rediculus to say restrict it only for handicap citizens.

Cudos too for its "greenness" as an alternative mode of short distance travel.

But having said that, the Segway unfortunately further entrenches our society into our increasing obesity problem because it is a passive mode of transportation unlike a walk or a bicycle ride.

So, still our two feet and a bicycle are best. It gets you there and it gets you fit.
Yes you will sweat on a bicycle. You have to shower anyway at the end of the day.
Yes you will get tired, its called exercise. Nothing a proper diet and rest can't take care of.

To imagine where compact PT or PUMA segways are taking us just watch the pixar movie wall-e. Notice what became of the occupants on the Axiom space ship? Do those compact transportation devices look familiar?

Okay, so I am a little late to this discussion but I just found this site. Let me say "WOW!!!" I can't believe how passionate some people can get over something they have never even tried out for themselves. The point I would like to make about the Segway and obesity in America is simply this, the Segway is not designed nor recommended for anyone over 260 pounds! 260 pounds is a lot if you are 5' 9" but not so much at 6' 5". In addition, it does take physical ability to properly opporate a Segway. Is it going to be a person's primary source of exercise? I hope not!!! For those who want a different, fun and exciting way to see ANY sites, not just our beautiful NPS sites, the Segway can't be beat. The previous comments bashing the use of Segways in our national parks are obviously options formed from ignorance of the Segway. There are currently 2 basic Segway models... the I2 which is more of an urban use device while the X2 has big knobbie tires designed for going off road. In addition the X2 can be outfitted with turf tires for use on golf courses and other mainly grass venues. I would suggest all you naysayers go out and take a Segway tour and then come back and tell us all how terrible they are! Bet you won't be able to... like momma used to say, "Try it, you'll like it"!!! And if you don't, you must be dead!

In closing, riding the Segway through our national parks isn't about people needing exercise (go to the GYM!!!). Its about giving people who have an interest in preserving the environment and those who may not be able to negotiate the terrain well on foot a new and innovative way to see the sites. A Segway is easier to ride than a bicycle. And for people like my mother-in-law, who have COPD, it is a way to see the sites at all.

I've ridden a Segway a few times. Neat gadget. I'd be glad to ride a Segway a couple of miles vs driving my car. I'd also be glad to ride my bike for the same distances and more. I'd also ride an electric bike.

Would I rather see a gaggle of Segways, pedestrians and bikes (pedal and electric) on the Cades Cove loop than a traffic jam of SUVs and RVs? ABSOLUTELY.

On the trails? Not so much.

The Segway and bicycles would be a great way to get people out of their cars. It would make a place like Cades Cove an all day destination for more rather than just a place to ride through in a car sipping on a soda or eating some snacks.

People could roll through these areas IF they weren't competing with all the &%$@# traffic on a bike or a Segway and HEAR nature rather than some obnoxious motorcycle rider nearby revving their engines after idling for a few minutes.

Modern Americans aren't going to exert themselves very hard. Too many of us want luxury and easiness in all things. However if people were going slow and outside on a Segway or bike they might rediscover the joys of being outside and want to venture further from the road on foot or carry a picnic and stop somewhere for hours to lay in a field and listen to the mtns rather than worry about how slow they are going or how badly the other drivers are operating their vehicles or how badly their FM channel reception is.

I'm for ANYTHING that removes the automobile from the center of every attraction. I like cars don't get me wrong but I can't walk or bike without breathing all those exhaust fumes and listening to the slow rumble of cars puttering through the parks I visit.

Time to move away from car-centric America a little in certain places. I'd like to see the NPS ban cars a few days per week in places like Cades Cove for us Americans who want to stroll, pedal or even Segway our way around the loop.

DO I want a bunch of tacky concessions? No. I don't go to the mtns for the Pigeon Forge circus. That's what Pigeon Forge is for. I go for a little solitude, a chance to see the mtns a little, and a chance to lay in the grass and just listen. Around where I live I get to hear traffic and sirens and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. No thanks...

Joe Average:
Modern Americans aren't going to exert themselves very hard. Too many of us want luxury and easiness in all things. However if people were going slow and outside on a Segway or bike they might rediscover the joys of being outside and want to venture further from the road on foot or carry a picnic and stop somewhere for hours to lay in a field and listen to the mtns rather than worry about how slow they are going or how badly the other drivers are operating their vehicles or how badly their FM channel reception is.

My sense is that there are a whole lot of people who would like to think that they're into physical fitness spending 15-30 minutes on a Stairmaster, but bypass one or two flights of stairs in favor of an elevator. Perhaps it's not necessarily a matter of fitness level, but what's cool (working out in a gym) versus some anonymous activity (climbing a real set of stairs as practical self transport).

You folks make me so PROUD that I spent 20+ years of my life defending the rights of ignorant people to make uninformed, opinionated, stupid statements. Did I see any of you “healthy” folks in Operation Northern Watch?? What about Bosnia?? Kosovo?? Anyone?? Anyplace??? What about even trying to support your troops from home??? How many of you have spent weeks or months away from you loved ones living in horrible conditions, with limited ability to let your family know you are still OK?

I was actually considering buying one of these “contraptions”, so that I could actually get out and see some of these wonderful parks and enjoy them after 15 years of not being able. But after doing some reading I am reconsidering this idea. If this is the type of pompous people I am going to meet in our National Parks, than I am definitely better off staying at home! Thanks for saving me the money.

Maybe you consider researching the topic before you start blowing your opinions out of your pie hole as fact? Maybe you should get off you high horse, and sit in a wheelchair and see how you like it? I guess that I am not deserving enough to enjoy YOUR national parks.

And you wonder why the rest of the world views Americans as arrogant….

I have spent many years in the National Park Service and it is amazing to me the number of comments in here that refer to "lazy fat americans". Evidently most of these people have no respect for anyone who is not like them. They do not recognize that there are people who are disabiled, but who long to have some of the experiences in our National Parks as others who are physically fit and able to walk in the beauty of the Parks. Reading some of these comments makes me feel as though I have visited Natzi Germany of WWII, where there were people who felt the same way about those who are disabled, and who made sure they were "taken care of". Are Segways for every Park? Perhaps not, but they may be for the disabled and for those Parks who do have roads and trails that are handicapped accessible. I just wish some of these folks would think of others as much as they seem to think about themselves.

thanks to all you haters out there who have no understanding of what is it like to spend and active life then be house bound by bad knees or hips, heart conditions, diabetes or other things that keep you out of the out of doors. Keep up your elitist demands that nothing disturb your purity of walking. We vote too. And many of you will realize that one day you will not be able to do what you once could do. You will wish a thousand times that you had a seqway to allow you to get out. I have never seen so much hate in my life. This is a country that is supposed to be willing to help those who are older or disabled. We aren't idiots you know, we can control a segway down to a crawl if we need to. What is wrong with you people.

This really isn't about the use of the Segway for those with mobility problems. The discussion is about using them as organized "tourist vehicles" as seen in some places, with a guiding permit for the company. It sort of looks like a motorized mule train. If you notice - some of them even have deep treads designed for off-pavement use.

I recall senior citizen organizations in San Francisco were requesting a ban of them on sidewalks because they were fearful that people tooling down the sideway at 8 MPH could very well run into those with mobility difficulties (on foot or wheelchair).

As it is now, motorized scooters are allowed on paved areas.

As a spouse of a handicapped person I find your short minded opinon offensive. Some disabled are able to stand and balance themselves quite well and it is the walking that can create their limitations. Allthough veiwing a national park on a Segway many seem like not seeing it at all to some, for the disabled it may be the closest they can get. Please educate yourself on the disabled and how you might feel as one before suggesting how they might explore a national park.

As a spouse of a disabld person, who is a young 42............ THANK YOU!! We have 2 Segways due to my husbands disablility after being shot in the line of duty. My husband has much difficulty with prolonged walking and any grade variation. The Segway has been like new legs to someone who once ran 3-5 miles everyother day. We have been able to continue to see and view many natural settings together, that we otherwise would not have. I agree with all that your post stated and can say with conviction that I have personal experience in how Segways allow those that need assistance be as independent and enviromentally conscience as they can be. Thank you again!!!