Segway Police: Unsafe at Any Speed?

Today at SFO’s teeming passenger pick up curb, I saw about 20-25 San Francisco police passing through on their Segways. A long line of them was making and winding its way between people, very much as though they were on their way somewhere. They also seemed to be in training. I saw a lot of them doing s-shaped curves and really leaning into their turns. The line was slinking at points, and most of the drivers were having to speed up and slow down quickly, make little turns, and avoid hitting stuff. At some points a few of them would get up to something like 5 mph, though not for significant stretches.

As they passed right behind me where I stood waiting for my ride, some of them got fairly close to me, like a foot and a half or so, but it wasn’t close enough to think I was about to get hit. Still it didn’t look like safe behavior to me. If anyone on the sidewalk would move suddenly, or if a large piece of luggage would unexpectedly tipped over, the situation easily lent itself toward creating an accident.

A few moments later, along came another Segway police, this one traveling solo. He was going a good bit faster, and I was walking in the opposite direction to where my ride had just pulled up. Right as he passed me, he came pretty close to me. I may have leaned in a tiny bit. I turned to him and said in a slightly raised voice, “Hey, watch it!” He stopped and turned around to ask me what I said. I told him that I thought he almost hit me. He denied it. We were about ten feet away from each other, so most of the people around could hear us if they were paying attention. He again said he did not almost hit me, and then apologized and called me sir. And that was all. I don’t really think he almost hit me, but I did think it was appropriate for somebody to suggest to them that they might be engaging in dangerous behavior.

P.S. In my opinion, DISLIKE! Segway Patroller for Police

Edward J. López is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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