Boston bans Segway from sidewalks – What about the Mayor’s bikes, and Hoverounds?

The Boston City Council has unaminmously voted to ban the technology-driven 2 wheel Segway from its sidewalks due to ‘concerned pedestrians’.  One company named ‘Boston Gliders’ is deeply upset and worried about future business, as they rent Segways to ‘money-spending’ tourists who use them on the sidewalks to navigate Boston’s narrow and winding roads.  A Boston Glides employee states:

Joe Ingram, who’s with a Segway tour company called Boston Glides, says that would push them right into the streets. “It would be a nightmare. I mean keeping everyone together in a line and close and safe and watching their wheels to make sure their wheels don’t tag a car or a curb.”

Now remember, Boston streets are very much unlike many other metropolitan streets in that they are much older, often paved with cobblestones, and narrow as hell.  Pushing Segways into the streets creates a real safety issue with bad drivers, and drunk drivers, which Boston has in abundance…(Usually elected officials).  On the other hand:

Residents in the North End have been complaining about an onslaught of Segway riders invading their neighborhood.

“They’re a pain in the butt, especially on like Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays,” said John Gargano. “It creates a nuisance. It creates a hazard.”

But, as with all stories I share, there is more to this than meets the eye.  What effect will this have on the Mayor’s future plans to have a bike sharing program run by the city?  We read back in April how Mayor Mumbles Menino was so excited at the prospect of having several hundred bikes racing around the streets of Boston, carrying health crazed commuters.  Here is the press release from Mumbles’s office.

“Over the past four years, we have taken great strides toward making Boston a city that welcomes and encourages bicycling but this innovative bike share system may be the most significant step yet,” Mayor Menino said. “We have worked tirelessly to build the infrastructure necessary to support such a system and we are confident that there is no better time to make Hubway a reality.

So here is the question – will bikers be allowed to ride on the sidewalk, or will they be forced into the streets?  If Segways can’t be on the sidewalk then why should bikes?  I expect bikes are far more dangerous and cumbersome to control on sidewalks than are Segways!  Oh, but wait a minute, the Segways are part of a private company effort, and the bikes are part of a city effort.  I get it now!!!!

Once again, the city of Boston has sent the very clear message that business is bad and government led efforts are good.  Private company renting Segways = bad.  Government renting bikes at low cost or no cost = good.  Or was this simply an act of legislative fiat on behalf of the city to remove a significant competitor?  

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