Dear PoPville – What’s Up with the Segway Tours in the Bike Lanes on Pennsylvania Ave?

segway pic 1

Dear PoPville,

I’ve noticed an increasing number of large segway tours using/blocking/monopolizing the all-too-disrupted Pennsylvania Ave bike lanes. What I saw last week was just out of control — probably 5 groups on the blocks between the White House and the FBI building, forcing bicyclists out into the lanes as they stopped and circled up to chat.

Are segways even allowed on bike lanes?

segway pic 2

57 Comment

  • Segways are allowed in the bicycle lanes.

    Share the road.

  • OP should be more concerned with cars doing U turns across the bike lanes than Segways riding in single file in bike lanes. don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.

  • randomduck

    Sadly yes, they are allowed in bike lanes.

    That said, they are terrible stewards of said bike lanes, riding unpredictably and stopping in the middle of traffic flow all the time. On the Pennsylvania Ave bike track, which no longer has a reasonable central buffer zone, it’s a recipe for frayed nerves and, ultimately, nasty accidents.

    • All evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

    • “they are terrible stewards of said bike lanes, riding unpredictably and stopping in the middle of traffic flow all the time.”

      This could also be said about many of the cyclists who use this bike lane.

  • Yes. They are allowed in bike lanes in DC. In fact, they are not allowed on sidewalks in the Central Business district (like bicycles), so the bike lanes are the real only alternative. Keeping in mind of course that cyclists in DC are never required to use the bike lanes anyway.

    • randomduck

      This is a fair point: bicycles are not required to be in the bike lanes, and there are many times when I take to the regular lanes while riding on Penn Ave (and other streets in DC). As long as you ride courteously (smoothly, stopping at red lights, etc.), it’s often safer (and faster) to ride with the rest of the traffic on Penn Ave.

  • Segways are incredibly annoying no matter where they are. A cop was on a segway INSIDE the CVS at 17th and P yesterday.

    • And this was annoying to you why? Are wheelchairs annoying? Strange perhaps, but annoying? I think what is annoying is the perception of a lazy cop, not the segway.

      • No, wheelchairs are not annoying at all. And although I am generally ambivalent toward cops, it is segways in particular that I find completely irritating. Get off your a$$e$ and walk, people, you look like a bunch of tools. The herds of tourists on the mall on segways are such an ugly sight.

        • I assure you, they’d be just as ugly off the segways.

        • Cops on segways are elevated – they can see further than they can on foot. They can travel faster than they can on foot (hence cover more area).

          Tourists on segways can see the city in a way a tourist on foot cannot. You can do the city segway tour in an hour. You cannot walk that entire tour in an hour. It is a different type of tour than you get walking or than you get on the hop-on-hop-off tour buses.

          I assume you just hate segways, but I wanted to throw that out there.

          • No, I am not a fan of segways, you’re right about that. But I am skeptical that the cop needed to bring his segway inside the CVS for visibility or speed. Bike cops are faster in any case. And most of the tourists in this town look like they could use a vigorous walk or bike ride around town.

          • Is Identified employed by Segway Inc.? I’ve really never seen anyone stand up for Segways with such conviction. It’s impressive.

          • I don’t know, but Identified tends to have strong and bizarre options on things.

          • opinions

          • I’m with Identified. I was skeptical of Segway tours until some friends visiting from NY wanted to try it. It was actually really fun. You can indeed see all the major sights on the mall in a few hours, which you can’t do on foot. We did the evening tour, which was particularly nice. The Segways were a blast to ride.

            Which isn’t to say that the tour companies shouldn’t do a better job of keeping their tours from interfering with pedestrians, bikes, and anyone else.

            As for cops, I think Seqways have advantages that have already been mentioned. It seems questionable that one would really be needed in a store.

          • a) the road is to be shared by all legal users
            b) no, I am not employed in any capacity having anything to do with segways
            c) I spoke once with a cop in a park as to the use of segways, he let me know the height, speed and ability to cover area opions.
            d) I have taken 1 segway tour. it was a forced “bonding excercise” by my employer. they were not a bad way to get around, though I have not ridden one since
            e) my opinions are my own. if you find them bizarre, that’s your opinion

          • Eh. I think Segways are a little silly, but if tourists like them, and they provide a unique way to see the city, and they are being mindful of other pedestrians (which we all should be anyway, whether we’re on bike, foot, or Segway), it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Sure, maybe some tourists could stand to be less averse to walking and physical activity. But maybe some have injuries or age-related physical conditions that impair their stamina. And the mileage *can* add up when doing the sightseeing rounds. I mean, we probably all rag on Segway-riding tourists a little (I’ve done it), but when you think about it, is it much different than us taking Metro for a 3-mile or so trip to our offices? Some days, if we’re feeling energetic and the weather is pleasant, we might prefer to walk; other times, it’s less strenuous and more convenient to just ride.

          • There are some well-known realtors in my neighborhood that get around on Segways and I think it makes sense. When we were looking at properties our realtor insisted on driving everywhere, and we spent a lot of time looking for parking.

          • Identified’s opinions are strange? No. Not really. And what Identified said is less of an opinion and more simple factual evidence of the utility of segways. Didn’t seem to be making much of a judgment call either way. I think it’s weird to have some unbased vitriol towards segways beyond, people are fat and should walk more. The same could probably said for anyone on the Metro or a bus or in a car.

          • In Bloomingdale, the officer on a Segway responds faster, covers more ground, and — coincidentally, I’m sure — is more approachable and friendly than those sitting in cars.

        • you live in the nation’s capitol!!! if you don’t want to see tourist move to an unpopular city! you are the probelm.

  • Out west, we call them ‘gapers’

  • Payback for the Rock Creek Parkway? lol

  • A surprising amount of Segway apologists have made themselves present

    • Surprising amount? How many would a non-surprising amount have been for you? 1? 2? 3? Just curious where that line was between surprising and not surprising.

      • More surprising is the misuse of the word “amount” when “number” is meant. Like, Literally!

  • gotryit

    I’ve never had a problem with them using the lanes to travel. But to stop in the middle and talk isn’t appropriate for a lane of travel.

  • I’m feeling a bit of schadenfreude regarding this.

  • I am equally annoyed with bikes on sidewalks. Bikes (and segways) are vehicles and belong in the street. Sidewalks are for pedestrians. So while I understand the frustration, as a vehicle, they belong in road.

  • A segway tour guide here. The areas we can ride in are actually heavily restricted by the city and National Park Service. I do use the Penn Ave bike lane, but as a serious cyclist myself I always make sure my group is in a single file line and aware that they are sharing the road with bikes. Glad to hear most people aren’t too annoyed by us. I know we look silly, but it is a fun and fast way to see the sights. I am also happy to note I don’t work for the company pictured…

    • gotryit

      we look silly on bikes too. A few weeks ago, my almost 2 year old caught on… “Daddy’s biscible? No motocycle?”

  • Funny… us drivers feel the exact same about you bikers in the driving lanes… now you know how we feel

    • gotryit

      You accept our presence for travel and only really complain when we stop and talk in the middle of the road? Wow, that would be great.

      • No, I think the point is bikes are slower and get in the way of cars when not using bike lanes. Sort of similar to the arguments above re segways in bike lanes. I don’t own a car, so I have no horse in this race. As a pedestrian I do often have to exert self control to not yell at people downtown riding their bikes on sidewalks.

      • As a driver, I’m perfectly fine with sharing the road with bikes. It’s the ones who buzz through red lights that scare me (and I see that a lot). Both car drivers and bike riders have to learn to share the road in DC.

    • Believe it or not, the world is not divided into discrete groups of drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and Segway riders. Some of us do all of the above. This is the real world, not Congress. So yeah, I do know how drivers feel–and cyclists, and pedestrians. Maybe you should consider trying on someone else’s shoes for awhile. You might learn something and gain a little empathy.

      • I think the lesson here is that people are generally annoying no matter their preferred method of travel.

      • Regardless of one’s mode of transportation, it should be done in the correct area. Pedestrians on sidewalks, vehicles on strees. If one is too scared to ride in the street then they should walk.

        • YES! As a cyclist, if a street feels too crowded or otherwise dangerous to ride on, get off the bike and walk it on the sidewalk. Sidewalks are for peds, streets are for vehicles with wheels.

          Sometimes I’ll see someone in a motorized wheelchair or scooter whizzing down a quiet street rather than the sidewalk, though. Dunno what to think about that . . .

          • Thank you Thank you Thank you! Although, I will give wheelchair bound folks free reign of the sidewalk… handicap is not a choice (most of the time).

    • THANK YOU! I came here to say the exact same thing. As a new driver in this city, I had no idea how terrible bikers are in general.

      • as a driver and a cyclist, I have no idea what you are talking about. maybe bikers appear terrible because you are an inconsiderate and/or bad driver and don’t realize how fragile a human life on a bike is? Your attitude is worries me.

        • Not trying to generalize, but a lot of bikers should be more careful and follow the rules, if only because of how fragile their situation is compared to cars. If a car and a bike collide, who do you think suffers more damage?

          • Granted there are plenty of reckless bike riders out there, what non-bike riders don’t understand is that it is often safer to break the rules (done correctly in certain situations) that were designed for cars than it is to follow them.

            One example is going through a red light when you are 100% sure you are clear (usually this means not crossing a huge street (K street, NY ave, mass ave, etc…) and coming to pretty much a stop. This is safer than trying to start at a green while cars are also starting. Bikers who just blow through lights or do the quick right then swing around without slowing are reckless but make up a very small % of bikers.

  • The only thing more annoying than packs of tourists are smug, self important bikers who the the rules only apply to everyone else.

  • i used to ridicule them, since Segway riders seemed like candidates for wheelchairs or bicycles.

    Then, in Minneapolis, I tried one out. Now I smile and wave at them, knowing how dern much fun they are.

  • No mention of pedicabs yet — those things are at least as annoying and prevalent as Segways, and they love monopolizing the bike lanes.

  • Ha… this is funny. OP is concerned about Segways in bike lanes. They should be more concerned about their slow-ass bike taking up space in driving lanes.

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