NEED FOR OPPOSITION TO SENATE BILL 1918 INTRODUCED BY
Issues with the Segway Human Transporter vehicle
California Council of the Blind
578 B Street Hayward, CA 94541
For Immediate Release
July 31, 2002
Contact: Dan Kysor, Director
California Council of the Blind
Phone: (916) 371-1514
NEED FOR OPPOSITION TO SENATE BILL 1918 INTRODUCED BY TORLAKSON
The California Council of the Blind (CCB) wishes to alert pedestrian, senior
citizen, and advocacy groups of the Assembly Appropriations Committee Hearing of
Senate Bill 1918, which has been introduced by Senator Torlakson. The Assembly
Appropriations Committee will be meeting at 9:00 AM at the State Capitol
Building Room 4202, Sacramento, California 95814 on Wednesday, August 7, 2002.
As of this time we do not know where SB 1918 has been placed on the committee’s
All interested parties are encouraged to attend and provide testimony in
opposition to SB 1918. A large turn out is critical, in order to provide the
Appropriations Committee members a broad perspective of concerns and issues of
why SB 1918 must not be passed.
If you are unable to attend, please fax letters of opposition to members of
the Appropriations Committee. A list of names and fax phone numbers of each
Assembly Appropriations committee member will be found at the end of this ALERT.
SB 1918 is sponsored by the developer and manufacturer of the Segway Human
Transporter vehicle. The bill defines the Segway as an electric personal
assistive mobility device (EPAMD). It is similar to other bills being sponsored
by the manufacturer in states throughout the country. Specifically, the
California measure would provide for the following:
· Specifies that the EPAMD is not a motorized scooter;
· Defines that an EPAMD in statute is a "pedestrian,"
the same designation as disabled individuals who use motorized wheelchairs
and other similar equipment;
· Permits local authorities to, by ordinance, regulate the time,
place and manner of operation of the EPAMD;
· Specifies certain equipment necessary for the use of the EPAMD,
including reflectors, a system that allows for a controlled stop, and if the
vehicle is used 30 minutes after sunset or 30 minutes before sunrise, a
· Provides for a five-year sunset of the provisions of the bill;
· Makes other findings to the efficacy of the vehicle to promote
As noted above, the Segway Company is working throughout the country to
develop statute conducive to further commercial and consumer development of the
Segway vehicle. This vehicle is a two-wheeled device utilizing human balance to
propel forward. Because of its small size, the Segway Company believes the
device can be used wherever a pedestrian can walk. The development of this
device has generated a great deal of discussion by pedestrian, senior citizen,
and disability advocacy groups on its application and appropriateness in
urbanized communities as well as a means to reduce air pollution. Many see the
Segway Human Transporter, which travels up to a maximum of 12.5 mph, as a viable
transportation alternative for shorter trips. Although there is a great deal of
support and excitement regarding the vehicle's potential application,
significant concerns have been raised by pedestrian, senior and disability
advocacy groups over the particular provisions of the California measure. Some
of our issues are:
a) The proposed designation of the Segway as a “pedestrian.”
Currently, the only exception to the definition of a pedestrian as a person
who is "afoot" is for individuals who utilize a motorized
wheelchair or other devices for movement due to a disability. The more
appropriate designation would be similar to that used for skateboarders,
which is a pedestrian on a skateboard.
b) Adding Segways to the definition of “pedestrian” authorizes the
vehicle for sidewalk use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
considers incorrectly the Segway to be on a par with motorized wheelchairs.
The Segway Human Transporter cannot serve the same purpose as a motorized
wheelchair or other devices for movement - in that it cannot be operated by
non-ambulatory persons with disabilities who often have no alternative means
of access. On the other hand, the Segway user has alternative options e.g.,
motor vehicle, bicycle, etc. to access their community, and the Segway would
be used only to travel the sidewalk more quickly.
c) The Segway scooter is a means of transportation that is thoroughly
untested on human subjects, particularly pedestrians and workers. Local
governments and many state agencies could suffer tremendous liability
exposure. Injuries and death from the Segway scooter could result in huge
“deep pockets” litigation in many instances. Could pedestrians sue if
injured on state or municipal owned sidewalks for inadequate study of the
dangers? Also, could injured employees sue under CalOSHA regulations due to
the lack of any CalOSHA testing of this equipment?
d) Most importantly, passage of SB1918 will create severe hazards to
other pedestrians, including senior citizens, children, the disabled, blind
and deaf individuals, who are not expecting such high-speed and extremely
quiet vehicles on sidewalks. The Segway's high speed and noiseless features
substantially increase the risk of injury and even death to pedestrians. In
addition, the legislation fails to address whether pedestrians will have any
legal recourse against Segway users, including those who provide inadequate
warning of the approach of the Segway Human Transporter or who operate the
device in a negligent or reckless manner.
e) SB 1918 may set a precedent for sidewalk use by other uninsured
motorized vehicles such as scooters. The severe safety hazard created by the
Segway may also discourage use of the sidewalks, thus adversely impacting
the lifestyle of our state and potentially preventing those who walk in
order to achieve many normal activities of daily living from fully
participating in our society.
f) The threat and discomfort felt by pedestrians, which may discourage
walking and use of sidewalks. Allowing a Segway on sidewalks that have been
designed for use at walking speeds and that travels at up to 4 times foot
speed creates dangers from conflicting uses of the sidewalk.
g) Competition for already limited space on the sidewalk.
h) There is also a great likelihood of crashes between Segway Human
Transporter users and motorists. The two most common causes of bicycle/motor
vehicle crashes are wrong-way riding and riding on the sidewalk, both of
which the Segway Human Transporter would presumably also be doing. Thus, it
is quite likely that deaths and serious injuries to Segway users would occur
in accidents with motorists. Moreover, There is no way to enforce speed
limits set by local ordinances, especially since the speed governing
mechanism on the Segway can be easily over-ridden.
i) Where sidewalks don't exist or come to a stop and the road has speeds
in excess of 25 mph danger to both Segwayers and motorists is created,
unless Segway is provided its own lane.
j) Segway operator having a sense of entitlement to access wheelchair
lifts and spaces on buses or rail vehicles, which could result in lawsuits
against transit districts.
k) The social justice impacts of allowing an expensive device available
to a limited population to dominate public space.
Finally, there are unaddressed issues in Senate Bill 1918 regarding:
operator license, insurance, training, and age of Segway users, the regulation
of the equipment that should be required for the operation of the device (e.g.
helmets, lights and reflectors, DUI), and allowing local jurisdictions to
prohibit the use of the device.
In light of the foregoing, you are asked to join other groups and concerned
citizens in asking the Assembly Appropriations Committee to reject Senate Bill
1918. Further, you are urged to request that a complete analysis and study
should be completed on the safety, benefits, costs of amending the definition of
“pedestrian” if similar legislation like SB 1918 is introduced in the
Your letters of opposition need immediately to be faxed to each member of the
Assembly Appropriations Committee, who are:
1. Darrell Steinberg, Chair fax 319-2109 room 5136
2. Patricia Bates fax 319-2173 room 4009
3. Elaine Alquist fax 319-2122 room 3120
4. Dion Aroner fax 319-2114 room 2163
5. Roy Ashburn fax 319-2132 room 3098
6. Gil Cedillo fax 319-2146 room 5016
7. Ellen Corbett fax 319-2118 room 4126
8. Lou Correa fax 319-2169 room 6025
9. Lynn Daucher fax 319-2172 room 4167
10. Jackie Goldberg fax 319-2145 room 5155
11. Abel Maldonado fax 319-2133 room 4015
12. Robert Pacheco fax 319-2160 room 4177
13. Lou Papan fax 319-2119 room 3173
14. Gloria Romero fax 319-2125 room 2117
15. George runner fax 319-2136 room 6027
16. Kevin Shelley fax 319-2112 room 319
17. Joe simitian fax 319-2121 room 5119
18. Helen Thomson fax 319-2108 room 6005
19. Herb Wesson fax 319-2147 room 3013
20. Pat Wiggins fax 319-2107 room 4016
21. Roderick Wright fax 319-2148 room 6012
22. Charlene Zettel fax 319-2175 room 5164
Remember, their addresses would be:
Assemblymember---California State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA. 95814 fax 319-2169 room 6025