In a unit of the National Park System that preserves one of the "last unspoiled coastal wetlands on the Atlantic Coast" along with 6,000 years of human history, should the National Park Service be promoting the use of Segways to explore the park?
Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, which is located near Jacksonville, Florida, also is associated with the Fort Caroline National Memorial that marks a 16th-century French outpost in the "new world."
Among the historic sites within Timucuan is the Kingsley Plantation, where you'll find the oldest plantation house still standing in Florida, one that dates to the early 19th Century. While you can easily visit the plantation, there's no need to walk around it. You can sign up for a Segway tour that includes a stop at the plantation, a tour you can find promoted on Timucuan's website.
Follow the link to "Ecomotion Tours" and you'll read that Segways allow "people to see more of the park in less time, with very little exertion - a welcomed option during the hot and humid months!"
Evolving Segway models are not limited only to pavement, either. Ecomotion Tours point out that they utilize "Segway XT cross-terrain model optimized for varied terrain and rugged environments." The prospects of where these two-wheelers might go make the debate over mountain bikes on hiking trails passe.
Which spurs these questions:
* Should the NPS, which likes to promote healthy, active recreation, be promoting a company that is promoting "very little exertion"?
* Are Segways compatible with national parks? While they might work well on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., what about in places such as Arches National Park, Acadia National Park, Everglades National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and on and on?
* What about user conflicts? Will those who prefer to walk around national parks be forced off pathways by Segway users? Can the NPS permit wider and less-restricted use of Segways and still adequately protect the resources AND visitor recreational quality?
* Will allowing the wider use of Segways open the door to even more intrusive technologies across the National Park System?
On the other hand, Segways also allow some folks who have disabilities that limit their ability to walk to see more of a park than perhaps they normally would.
What do you think?