Thursday, November 6, 2008

Downtown Vision Hangs Up Bikes For Segways

As I walked through Hemming Plaza during last nights Art Walk. I was more than a little surprised to see a Downtown Ambassador rolling towards me on a brand new Segway. When she approached me, I asked, "What's with the Segways? Are the bicycles just too efficient? The Ambassador jokingly responsed, "yea, all that riding around was keeping me way too fit." She then followed up with, "the Segway was better because unlike a bike she could stop and talk to people". I was standing next to a fellow artist/cyclist and our only response to that last statement was to turn each with that quizzical look to see if the other had heard the statement correctly. You can't stop and talk people on bike? Really?

I am and have been a fan and supporter of the Ambassadors along with Downtown Vision (DVI). Despite some serious lack of vision at times, DVI has been and continues to be exceptional driving force for downtown development.

But (you knew there had to one), in an area of Jacksonville where walking and cycling are the two most perfect forms of transportation. Segways are completely the wrong choice for what is the most visible group in Downtown. It sends the wrong message to an already over weight population. I also believe that DVI and the Ambassadors being as visible as they are should be walking and biking. The Ambassadors are the best examples we have on daily basis on just how easy it is to move around downtown by bike and walking. I stood for some time and watched as the ambassador worked her way through the Art Walk crowds. The thing that really stood out to me was how disruptive the Segway was to the traffic flow of the pedestrians. People walking would give that Segway contraption a wide berth unable or unsure to determine where it was headed. While those same pedestrians had no problem navigating with the cyclists that were moving through the crowds.

DVI could have done so much more with the $12,000 that was spent on two Segways. They could have outfitted every ambassador with their own bike and gear. Bike Jax would also have been more than happy to provide the training that would allow those newly biked ambassadors to apply the brakes in such a manor as to allow them to stop and talk to people. I think that Downtown Vision's was a little blurred with this decision.


dr.strangelove said...

I am with you I saw that the other day, and couldn't believe it. I am sure those things aren't cheap either.

Abhishek said...

Segway's just make a pedestrian more inefficient by having to use energy derived from coal and natural gas. Moreover, they can not be on the road.

One of the non-segway-equipped DVI did stop to admire my xtracycle. Maybe all hope is not lost, except the $12,000.

9a is my backyard said...

I can somewhat understand their desire for something other than a 2-wheeled bike, but wouldn't a tricycle (or something along those lines) have been just as good and much, much cheaper?

David D said...

I always think of Gob Bluth when I see a Segway.

Jax EBikes said...

Oh, geez! What a waste. I should have shown them EBikes sooner. I could have equipped them with 5 A2B(s) for the same price!

Oh, well. Who sells Segways in Jax anyway?

Wordnerdy said...

That's silly. Sometimes I wonder about the Big Important People who work Downtown. This makes as much sense as JTA declining Sirius' offer to wrap the Skyway trains during the Super Bowl.