Tuesday, January 17, 2006
The Jan 12/06 Toronto Works Committee meeting again reaffirmed "NO SEGWAYS" on public infrastructure
The good news is, these machines have finally been put in their place i.e. not on any public sidewalk or pathway but only on private property.
At the Toronto Works Committee meeting of 1/12/06 as reported by http://spacing.ca/wire/
the Segway Ontario.com principles “admitting in a brief deputation that the issue was basically a provincial one, and that they were resigned to waiting to see what the province will do about it (under Bill 169, An Act to Amend the Highway Traffic Act, the provincial government can now allow new vehicles on provincial roads as pilot
projects)”. There was some discussion re. approval of Segways as personal assistance mobility devices ---“almost all of them (Councillors) chose to speak, and they each clearly stated that there was a big difference between allowing Segways as mobility assistive devices — which they all supported — and allowing them to be used by able-bodied people on sidewalks, which they did not support.”
The London Ontario municipal Council should take note! “When the
city (Toronto) legal officer gave legal advice that any city bylaw allowing the use of Segways as assistive mobility devices would have no legal effect because provincial laws would supercede
it”. Our student group, Innovative Mobility, is opposed to any provincial approval of Segways including use by persons of disability because of problem(s) associated with licensing based on qualification and quantification of suitable disability i.e. amputee vs. person with visual disability vs. person with learning disability vs. person with hearing disability vs. person with Parkinson's disease and the list goes on.
Disney in 2004 banned Segways due to what they saw as Segways legal problems arising from potential safety issues. Not even the disabled are allowed the use of Segways due to the problem of identification of the truly disabled and those who are looking to game the system and take advantage of accommodations for the disabled.
The catch-22 of any Segway approval at any level of government is that such approval puts people with disabilities both visible and invisible at risk due to Segway collisions on the sidewalk and other public pedestrian infrastructure. Later in this blog, Segway Caveats for Municipal Council Consideration, you will see that
many disabled groups are against the Segway because:
- People of disability like other pedestrians are not regulated traffic and do not travel in a straight line.
- Fast moving vehicles on the sidewalk would be especially dangerous to those with visual impairments.
- There is no viable way to enforce safe operation of Segways on the sidewalks.
- Segway users are not required to have insurance, though the devices are demonstrably dangerous to operate on a sidewalk.
- Who would be responsible for disability and medical claims in the event of a Segway collision?
- Segways are virtually silent, and therefore a serious menace to the visually impaired.
- There is no way to expect police to enforce a speed limit on our sidewalks. It is difficult enough for them to enforce the speed limits on our roads.
- How do you licence only people with true and Segway suitable disabilities --- and weed out those who are trying to game the system?
The most important consideration from the “safety perspective” whether for the able bodied or the disabled is the risk to other sidewalk stakeholder due to braking distance and energy exerted on
a Segways collision impact.
- For the able bodied:
- The National Safety Council has determined that the average reaction time for an emergency braking situation is three-quarters of a second. At even 12mph, a Segway would therefore travel an average of 13 feet before the user would even initiate braking. Segway claims that the device could then be stopped in an additional 5 feet (which would be a remarkable 1g of deceleration if true) for a total stopping distance of 18 feet. Again, this would be completely unsafe for sidewalk use.
- Energy increases with the square of velocity. This means the energy expended in a crash of a rider on a 80 lb Segway scooter going 12 mph would be approximately 25 times greater than for a person walking.
- For the person with disability:
- It should be noted that braking distances may be substantially longer for “persons of disability” depending on exactly what their disability is. I don’t believe any municipality should get into qualifying and quantifying Segway suitable disabilities due to the potential for claims of insensitivity and claims of discrimination.
We recommend that if you wish to help put a stop to the reclassification of Segways as pedestrians or as personal assistance mobility devices, write, fax, email or call the office of the Ontario Minister of Transport, Harinder Takhar.Harinder Takhar
Ministry of Transportation
77 Wellesley St. W., 3rd Floor, Ferguson Block
Toronto ON M7A 1Z8
Innovative Mobility will shortly be posting our full and complete report to
Ontario Minister of Transport. While this report will be tailored to the
Province of Ontario it will have data and references that will have an
application for any global community that is considering approval of Segways as
personal assistance devices in their community.
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