Segway Beatles

There is always so much controversy with regards to the inflexible regulations notorious in Singapore- govern this govern that they say. This one in particular with respect to the rules against the use of Segways in commuting. No wonder it never took off, or even heard of to many in Singapore.

However, with the ongoing encouragement of public transport use over private cars, isn’t that a conflict of interests? I mean we can picture ourselves able to commute by bus and train using these transporters on board, these are efficient little tools which can completely replace the car. Furthermore these will all go in hand with all wheelchair friendly facilities around as well.

But no, LTA don’t think likewise:

We would like to inform you that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) regulates vehicles that can be used on public roads. The Segway Human Transporter is not designed for and hence not suitable for use on public roads where there would be interactions with motor vehicles. Given its design and construction, the Segway Human Transporter cannot meet our technical requirements and be registered for use on public roads. Under the Road Traffic Rules, motorised vehicles such as the Segway human transporter are not allowed on pedestrian walksways.

If you intend to use the Segway on private grounds and non-public roads (i.e. recreational/private compounds, factory ground, airport terminals, etc), permission should be obtained from the authorities/owners governing such places.

Segway Polo

So with that there goes Segway golf, Segway polo and Segway trekking, just to name afew and maybe forgoing few new possible sports in the Youth Olympics as well. With the exception of a pathetic park in Biopolis and for staff in the airport, we can’t even use them from Orchard to East Coast park (where they will most probably refer you to NEA which will also get you nowhere).

Moreover, how inflexible of the authorities to put the Segway under a motorised vehicle which also comes under the same category as petrol-powered scooters/bicycles, or mainly because they do not really know what it is? After my past experiences them, I won’t be amused if any related government agencies don’t even know what a “Segway” is. But oh yes we are Singaporeans and these things are not taught in school, so it’s ok not to know about it.

In fact, the Segway is proven to be an effective human transporter for more almost 10 years, only that it is not given the proper recognition here and torn between 2 worlds as a “human powered unicycle” and a gasoline powered bike/vehicle.

I guess it will be a long time we get to use these legally on the streets, I guess I can only look forward into using it during my time in UK- where WOW it’s not even legal to use in public parks, but even utilized by civil servants such as postmen and police officers themselves, now thats evolution… there!

21 COMMENTS

  1. Read your posting on Segway. I’ve been following Segway case since 2001, even almost placed an order for Segway and is aware of the pilot trial at one-north.

    There are more to what you mentioned. Let me list down some of the information I’ve gathered since 2001.

    Issue 1: Use of Segway on Pedestrian walkways

    Our experience with motorized bicycles from 2001 to 2004 (classified as Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Device” or “Personal Motorized Mobility Device”) revealed that there is a safety and behavioural issue when motorized bicycles interface with pedestrians. Please see extract of a parliamentary debate on accidents involving pedestrians and bicycles here.

    Therefore, more studies will need to be done as safety and impact on human behavour on other users is a concern.

    Issue 2: Legal

    Vehicles (be it Segway or bicycles) above 200 watts and/ or maximum speed above 25km/hr are considered as mopeds or motorcycles and hence subjected to LTA technical and registration requirements before they can be use on the roads.

    Under the law, motorized vehicles must be licenced before they can be used on public roads and the drivers of such motorized vehicles must hold a
    valid licence and be covered by a third-party insurance. Motorised, electric bicycles or Segway above 200 watts and/ or maximum speed above 25km/hr may fall under the description of such motorized vehicles.

    Use of unregistered vehicles on public roads is an offence under the Road Traffic Act. An exemption order has to be made under the Road Traffic Act to exempt such vehicles (above 200 watts and/or 25km/hr) from registrations.

    To date, we are unaware of any exemption order.

    Issue 3: Integrating cycle/ Segway paths into traffic system

    Please refer to another extract of the parliamentary debate on the above-mentioned issue in habitatnews.

    Issue 4: Public acceptance to use of Segway

    A Segway cost about $12,000, and it is likely to have few buyers if usage is restricted to a certain cluster of buildings and do not complement
    existing public transport system. Therefore, it is necessary to facilitate the usage of Segway on the MRT or LRT system. Again similar to Issue 1, the relevant and competent authorities will need to examine the safety and behaviourial issues when Segway interface with the rail commuters.

    Furthermore, there hasn’t been any data or surveys that justify public acceptance to the use of Segway.

    Issue 5: Alternative to Segway

    Even if we are able to overcome our constraints, won’t the public be more inclined to buy a more economical alternative like electric or motorized bicycles instead?

    Issue 6: Insurance and Liability Issues

    An insurance scheme has to be worked out between Segway user and members of the public in the event of an accident.

    Issue 7: Commerical viability

    There are current no rental model from the vendors. Vendors are more interested in selling the product and due to the limited take up rate, the vendor is now relocated to Hong Kong.

    Conclusion:

    Moving forward, we should concentrate in addressing the issues and ensure that the pilot trial on existing infrastructure (e.g. MRT/ LRT system, walkways and roads, etc) becomes a success. With the experience from the pilot trial, we may propose permissive legislation to the relevant authorities on the usage of Segway.

  2. One thing I believe some points you mentioned with respect to 2001 may not be relevant now, partly that on our public infrastructure such as lifts in all MRT stations and the wheelchair friendly buses, all these point towards the accommodation of not only our disabled counterparts, but for the segway as well, as it can “ride on” on them.

    But whether the public will comment on the possible abuse of such disabled facilities for the segway, that is something we can expect too. Though we can argue how well-utilized are such facilities actually used by the disabled.

    I am not sure of the power rating of the segway, but it’s top speed falls within the 25hm/hr limit from what I read on paper, so I don’t think it can be classified under a motorized vehicle requiring registration. I believe you have more firm facts on that in relation, so I will have you points on that.

    Lastly, a motorized bicycle cannot be compared directly to the segway in terms of price, but rather a display of technological excellence and it’s form factor- the segway is built more for urban layout- areas where the bicycle will have trouble negotiating, e.g lifts and trains. That itself gives the segway a comparative advantage itself.

    I am glad to see a pro-segway community in Singapore as well, though we are a small bunch, I am really hoping we can set and bring the message through in legalizing it here. I understand that we have to import our segways from the distro now located in HK, do you (or know anyone) who owns a segway in Singapore currently? I guess it will be quite pain having one at this point of time.

  3. The issue of Segway user cannibalizing the facilities for the physically challenged is a sensitive one. It is best not to venture into this.

    One key problem is Segways cannot be classified as a motor vehicle or an electric bicycle and is complicated by the interfacing (and unresolved) issues between pedestrians and cyclist on walkways. Furthermore, it is not cheap, so there is no critical mass to lobby for this.

    There are also cheaper and healthier alternatives like the foldable bicycles (see http://jz88.com/try.html) so this makes Segway less of an alternative transport mode.

    There are other issues like the impact of Segway on the general well-being and health of the population. Less people will walk with Segways being legalized?

    I managed to google out the new company distributing Segway in Singapore (see http://www.segway-singapore.com/). Not sure of the distributor’s plans for Segway.

  4. I agree with Shaun. The ramps meant for handicapped were scarcily used. its now as an alternative mean for elders who find walking difficult. Public/cyclists use these ramps as well, provided if no handicapped people are using at that time. If there’s a law that imposes on those who abuse the ramp use, then what are these left for? Display?

    Same for MRT with spaces alloted for HC, do we have to stand clear of the space when no HC users were present? will driver hv time to shout onto mic and kindly ask those who stand on space meant for HC to move away? How about peak hours when crowds are expected?

    I don’t mind about the carpark lots reserved for HC use, that is fine as long there’s HC user to park his/her car. The capacity for use is not same for ramps and spaces alloted for HC in MRT.

  5. Hi, sorry if my question is not in the same topics with this blogs issues, but could anyone tell me how much does a segway exact cost ? And where can i buy it ? Thanks guys…

  6. Hi there, your dream of having the Segway on sidewalks might soon turn out to be reality. We are currently garnering support for a trial of the Segway in the ECP. So far, we are currently in talks with the US on approaching such matters and getting the Segway legalized. In 2005, the transport minister granted an exemption for the Segway from the conflicting Traffic Laws. Its a shame if people don’t get a chance to try it. Can you get in contact with me via the email above? We would love to be able to get support from others to help us to convince the authorities to reconsider.

    • I would like to know the rules, if any, in Singapore regarding the use os Segway.
      Since I’m a senior, fairly agile but because of an accident last year I cannot walk more than 500 m along Orchid Rd. I can cycle distances in EC and North.
      I support any effort to make Segway an accepted transport on pavement and Park Connectors.

      Good Luck,
      Larry

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  8. I’m pro Segway too and am very fed up that SG laws prevent us from using it anywhere except on private property. All the talk about car population and the need to go green is not working when green products like the Segway are not encouraged. Obviously the people who pass these regulations have not see one in action and they must have heard complaints about the dangers of using the Segway – which is utterly ridiculous because everything is dangerous, even riding a bicycle is dangerous. And if they can have schools for motorbikers, why can’t they have lessons for would be Segway owners? I’m almost sure that the regulators haven’t even looked at the specs of a Segway. There are different models with different speeds that can be set with a key, and from what I can see, even the top speed is lower than the top speed of a bicycle.

    I find that cyclists who ride on sidewalks are more hazardous because they are too lazy to stop their bicycles and expect everyone to give way to them. Anyone trained enough to use a Segway will know how to slow down and stop for pedestrians and I’m willing to bet that Segway users will be more considerate to pedestrians than people who cycle on sidewalks.

    Of course, there will be exceptions on both sides but by and large, I think because Segways are slower than electric bicycles and their speeds can be controlled, they should be allowed on our sidewalks.

  9. Hi, I realise this is quite an old post I come across while searching for such information. there is this smaller version of gyro sensored, auto balancing vehicle, called Robstep. it is a lot smaller and lighter than Segway, and I think would be more suitable to use in our environment. you can check our website for more details. it is also much cheaper than segway!

      • After a google search, it seems that Sports Lab Technologies Pte Ltd is the distributor in Singapore. The Robstep retails at S$4500 with 1 year warranty in Singapore & Malaysia as far as I know.

        Nothing on whether it’s legal to use it in Singapore pavements without inviting a barrage of public complains. XD

  10. Any idea if SoloWheel or IPS Unicycle is allowed on Singapore’s road? It is smaller than Robstep and seems to be quite a cool and highly portable “Human Transporter”.

    • Sports Lab Tech is launching a “locally designed” Soloseg (made in China, where else). It’s similar in size and features as the Solowheel. PC show this Thurs to Sun; $1800

  11. Sorry my comments may not be relevant to the subject discuss but I read with interest articles about the electric unicycle by Solowheel, Airwheel, Ips, etc. I am a Parkinson’s Disease patient and during therapy classes, I am constantly on balancing board and made to walk onboard mattresses to practise my body balance and postures. Wouldn’t it be good if PD patients are allow to use these electric unicycle to help them move around and at the same time practise their body balance and postures. This is of course after going proper training by qualified instructors and maybe certified fit to use one. Any comments are welcome. Thank you.

  12. Well, I just bought AirWheel and it’s definitely a good bicycle alternative with max speed of 18km/h but I rarely reach that speed because of the beeping sound that warn me of my speed when I reach above certain speed.

    I blogged about it with some videos

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