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24 September 2014

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Commuter Challenge

A personal transporter
A personal transporter

Day Ten: Segway

James Brown, transport manager at the University of Derby, says there's more than one way of getting to work. He's trying ten different modes of transport from Chester Green to the Kedleston Road campus.

However, James's efforts aren't be simply along the lines of 'bus, bike and car' - oh no... James is trying some more unusual methods of getting from A to B.

His list includes: cycling, walking, electric car, heelys (trainers with wheels), segway (a kind of electric scooter) and powerizers (stilts with springs)!

Day 10 – Segway

Journey Time 12 minutes – The Fastest!!

Journey Cost – This Segway costs £3,995. The range is 10-20 miles per overnight battery charge depending on riding style!

It was with a tinge of sadness I realised that today would represent the last day of the commuter challenge! I really have enjoyed myself in the process of getting to work… but the Segway would prove the perfect tonic to finish with!

It arrived on Thursday, so I could practice, but after about a minute, I felt totally confident on it. It was so intuitive, and so easy to use, and also exceptionally good fun.

It was even more fun to go into the atrium of the University and ride past people – most people turned to look with interest at what was going on, some had something to say, and a small minority ignored it, like they see people going past on Segways every day! This was going to be a great mode of transport to get to work on, even if it felt like some totally bizarre space age dream!

I set out early to work, it was the coldest morning yet on this challenge.

James on a personal transporter
James tries it out!

I couldn't work out whether to use the pavement or the road, so elected to use the pavement on main roads and decided to use the road, in quieter areas! It was fantastic, a real buzz, and it was quite amusing to start off and see people's reactions! The cold was quite penetrating, and my eyes were watering very badly, if I hadn't been laughing so much people would have thought I was extremely upset to be on the Segway.

The journey to work was just so rapid! Speed ramps had to be taken carefully, but the rest of the way, it was like a fast jog (and at times a sprint!) There were not many people about, but those who were all keen to say hello, and it seemed that the Segway cheered them up. There were no problems, no obstacles and all short cuts could be taken, as on the bike, it was just two miles of fun and enjoyment – it was just so entertaining!!

It didn't even slow down up hill – slopes were climbed very efficiently, a real surprise! I looked at my watch after crossing the A38, and couldn't believe how quickly I had made progress.

When you first use one, it doesn't seem real… it is so radically different to anything else I've tried in the last 10 days, but such a fantastic idea. There are no emissions at the point of use and there is a claimed range of over 20 miles so it is extremely practical. There is even an 'off-road' version that climbs kerbs and also one with luggage trays and a golf club holder!

But there are disadvantages, firstly the cost – at £3995, it is not cheap, especially compared to bikes, but I suppose if it is compared to, lets say, running a second family car, then it is good value!

Secondly, they are not really recognised in any legislation, which means there is a great deal of uncertainty about how you can use them. I took the view that used sensibly and responsibly (they could easily be mis-used), it would present no more danger or problems than a jogger or a bicycle, but to use one long term, I would feel more comfortable knowing they were officially approved for use.

I can safely say that the Segway was my favourite mode of transport over the 10 days…

last updated: 04/01/10
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