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Segways may be gone, but tours in Bruges will go on

© Segway Brugge

The Segway, a two-wheeled battery-operated scooter invented in 2001 and marketed as a personal transporter, is to stop production, the Chinese manufacturer Ninebot said.

Ninebot took over the company in 2015, by which time the vehicle had acquired a somewhat comedic reputation.

Segway was difficult to ride, depending on the rider leaning forward or backwards to accelerate and decelerate, all the while maintaining balance. Accidents with the Segway became a news perennial, as when US president George W. Bush fell off of his while at the family home.

Runner Usain Bolt was run over by a Segway-mounted cameraman who ran into him as he won a 200m race in Beijing. And the movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop milked the device’s comic potential to the full.

The smiles were wiped off, however, when the owner of the manufacturer, Jimi Heselden, died after falling from a cliff in Yorkshire in England while riding the signature vehicle of the company he had acquired only ten months before.

However, the end of the Segway is not the end of Segway tours.

The Segway legacy also lives on in police forces around the world, including in Brussels.

According to Mathias Wentein, who runs Segway Brugge which offers city tours in Bruges, intends to carry on. The devices they have are good for some time yet, and there are enough alternatives to keep the company going after, he told VRT radio.

The electric scooter, for example, is now a feature in many towns and cities, although its tiny wheels are perhaps not as suited as the Segway’s to the cobbled streets of the medieval city.

The alternatives are also a good deal cheaper than the Segway, a new model of which will cost you €8,000.

He denied that the Segway is dangerous, despite its spotted history.

With some guidance, you can get on with it, even older people,” he said. “We don’t rent them out for free use. You always have to be with a guide who can explain everything. Under their supervision, we can be sure that everything goes safely. We’ve also limited their speed.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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