back to article Segway death blamed on good manners

Jim Heselden, the Segway owner who died late last year after toppling from one of the scooters, likely fell from the cliff because he was getting out of the way of a man walking his dog. He fell more than 40 feet from a footpath above a river near Boston Spa, close to his home. Sean Christie was out walking his dog. He told …

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Pint

He was right..I've seen them in Dublin airport myself

.... and I wasn't too hungover.

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Fun, though

Segways are great fun, though. Rode on one at Thetford Forest a couple of months ago and I can really see the appeal.

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Facepalm

The tech is sound, it's the price that's a problem

It's hard to sell something as "more important that a PC" when it costs ten times the price of one... $7000-$8000 is more than the price of my *car*.

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University campuses as well

A friend at UC Berkeley says that the campus plods patrol on Segways - and I'm fairly sure that I saw some Dutch plods on them, but I had been in the Netherlands for a few days and the cakes I got with my coffee may have clouded my judgement...although not enough for me to take one of the Segway tours.

Nice ideas, but too expensive for the advantages that they give.

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You should go to the Continent some time...

I live just outside Lille, and sightings of Segways are a regular occurrence. The local bus/tram/metro company offers them for hire any time of the year except July and August, and at the Citadel (17th Century star-shaped fortress now the HQ for a Rapid Reaction Force), you can rent one to ride around the grounds *outside* the building.

My first sighting was for some sort of advertising shoot I saw in Amsterdam in 2006, with two women riding them to stir up pigeons.

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Boffin

2001 Hype

I seem to remember that some of the hype in 2001 was that Project Ginger was actually an antigravity device.

The truth emerged to be more prosaic...

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Antigravity

'Doesn't fall down' = antigravity.

Well it does in my Wile E Coyote Beginners Book of Physics Fun.

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hype

I remember the hype too, they claimed it as a product that would change the world. A bit like the astonishing Amstrad eMailer.

Shame it wasn't an antigravity device for Jim Heselden's sake.

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Anonymous Coward

Why would anyone?

Why would anyone with a clue use a segway? Oh wait, that's a rhetorical question I guess.

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More than a few folks, actually...

Anyone that has to walk more than a couple miles regularly, but doesn't want to use a car, could reasonably be considered a target market for Segways. Especially if elderly or in poor health.

I have a couple friends that take theirs on vacation, and they get to see a whole lot more than I do, 'cause they can get from 'here' to 'there' much faster than I do on my plain ol' Mark 1 Mod 0 feet.

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Anonymous Coward

Users are clueless?

They're great at allowing the obese and lazy to get even fatter, I guess they don't have a clue. Which is probably why they sit there scratching their head, eating pizza and wondering why they're so fat.

What's wrong with getting a little exercise by walking or cycling?

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They always seem a bit awkwardly in-between to me

I read they can do about 12 mph so they get you up to about three times as fast as a brisk walk - 2 miles in 10 minutes rather than 30. You can't be that sick or elderly to use one because you still need to be able to stand up and hold on throughout the journey. It's not an electric wheelchair and it's not exercise, it's faster than walking yet not as fast a bike and it's not anything like as fast as a car. It seems to fall into a middle zone that's a bit meh.

On a side note, there's a long standing debate surrounding whether people who do go from 'here' to 'there' as fast as possible on holiday actually do see more than people who walk about instead. Your friends certainly travelled past a whole lot more things than you did but that's not quite the same thing.

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And they're illegal on British roads and pavements

except on private property. These are the rules, and have been since 1605 when it was first made illegal to travel by witchcraft. An exception was made about a hundred years ago for headless horse carriages powered by an infernal cacodemon engine.

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"infernal cacodemon engine"

I am *so* using that, although goodness knows where.

My first laugh of the morning, cheers Rob.

Steven R

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Unhappy

I really wish they were legal to use

I was sorry to hear this guy died as it did seem his heart was in the right place so to speak. He tried to do good. But I would say the way the law is now we are trapped in the UK with transport that dates to over a hundred years ago :(

So I really wish personal motor powered transport was legal for everyone to use in Britain, as it would help fuel a lot more innovation in personal transport.

That would be good in so many ways. It would for example help start up more businesses and it would (as others have pointed out) also help reduce carbon emissions compared with petrol engines in some applications. Plus by having legal access to the UK mass market, that would in turn also help lower manufacturing costs and increase innovation in disabled personal transport as well.

Also it would be good for everyone's mood to simply be able to have more fun with new forms of personal transport. :)

Also public transport is under increasing pressure, so innovation in personal transport would help reduce this problem, whilst also helping to put pressure on public transport companies to lower their transport costs.

So the politicians should allow more innovation in personal transport, as a truly free market would help the economy and help lower carbon emissions and help lower costs and help innovation in disabled personal transport and with other gains as well, so I can't see how they can keep obstructing progress. :(

So I really wish they were legal to use in the UK. :(

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Ride a bike

The human body is a great motor and most people have plenty of fuel stored up (fat). Regular cyclists can do 20-30MPH on the flat.

Why would you want to legalise something that creates even more fat unhealthy people? the cost to the NHS would be huge.

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Illegal?

From what I recall, the same act that made CBs a license-free broadcast medium and the little FM transmitters for your MP3 player legal, also legalised license-free use of electric bicycles up to 15mph top speed and a 250W motor. They are now classed as bicycles rather than small motorbikes. It was one of the few decent things the last lot did.

Now riding a bicycle of any sort on a pavement is illegal and always has been, but considering the amount of people riding on the pavement anyway (myself included), that law probably needs revising to something like "ride slowly on the pavement if you like but pedestrians always have right of way".

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Childcatcher

@ Asgard

Asgard wrote :-

>>>So I really wish personal motor powered transport was legal for everyone to use in Britain, as it would help fuel a lot more innovation in personal transport.<<<

You have obviously never been to Henleaze (OAP suburb of Bristol) during shopping hours. "personal motor powered transport" is alive and well in the form of "disability" scooters which are perfectly legal seemingly whether on road or pavement, despite the fact that they can do about 12 mph, weigh I guess about 250 kg and are under the control of geriatrics who's reaction time is about 15 seconds and whose clue rating is around 0 out of 10. Bloody dangerous at times.

I put "disability" in quotes because many of the users are not disabled at all. My own elderly mother gets chatting to some of these people and get comments like "It's my husbands, but I just use it for shopping". Expect this to extend futher down the age range over the next few years.

You are sounding paranoid when you say "we are trapped in the UK with transport ..." but in fact the law seems quite tolerant in this matter. There have been quite a few loony forms of transport used on UK roads over the years, the Sinclair C5 for example, and I have known guys who have built their own cars and I have been astonished at what has passed the Ministry inspector who has come to see them before allowing them on the road - bad design details like only being able to put the edge of your foot on the brake pedal.

I suspect that the Segway was a bridge too far though.

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Anonymous Coward

Legality & Electric Bicycles

There are all sorts of arguments about the legality of the use of segways and indeed other electric vehicles on pavements. However the segway does not qualify as an electric bicycle for one fairly simple and obvious reason: it has no pedals.

As I recall the law on electric bicycles they must be electrically assisted pedal cycles, just like a pre-1977 moped they should in theory have to be started by pedals and be capable of being powered by pedals alone. The segway having no source of power other than its electric motors does not qualify as an electric bicycle. As far as the law is concerned it is a motor vehicle as such it must qualify with construction and use regulations.

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Coffee/keyboard

Plods on Segways

Presumably fugitives escape from them by running down or up stairs - just like Daleks.

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Trollface

Actually....

I think there is a version of the segway with a sort of "tri wheel"arrangement that can negotiate stairs a bit like those hand trolleys you have that can be used on stairs

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Seen em at the new Bangkok airport

Which is quite a large building, plods in pairs on Segways scooting about. Wouldn't think you'd see them on the streets of Bangkok though!

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Headmaster

wot?

"In so doing he's attempted to reverse the Segway back. "

So, using a present perfect to describe a past situation, and a superfluous 'back'. Two errors in one short sentence.

It gives one a lot of faith in the investigation when the officer conducting it has the literacy of a third former.

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@Maty

He's a policeman, not a grammar teacher FFS.

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So what?

I've never seen a cop reverse a car forward.

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Words matter when you're a cop writing a report

A cop reversing a car forward is also known as driving the car. It's a double negative.

He's policeman, not a grammar teacher FFS. So when he writes about what happens he needs to be clear and sticking extra words in where they're not needed is a good way to create ambiguities.

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White & nerdy

See the clip to "White & Nerdy" by Weird Al, it's the best depiction of a segway in use up to date.

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Never mind the video - catch him in concert!

Al literally waltzes his Segway around the stage - He's astonishlingly adept with it.

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Am I the only one...

... that finds the juxtaposition of the last section in this story somewhat tasteless in a report about a man's death? This is not a "Darwin award" death, but an unfortunate accident to someone who was, by all accounts, a generous and kind person.

Sorry, El Reg, but for me you got the tone of this report wrong.

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Shift in tone somewhat disconcerting, but content remains focused

If by "last section" you mean the paragraph describing "project ginger," I'm not so certain. Seeing as Heseldon owned Segway, Inc. up until his unfortunate demise, the raw information definitely was appropriate to this report. The tone it was delivered in - well, about the best I can say is "it's The Register. Did you honestly expect anything different?"

-d

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But ...

... all Darwin Award nominations are related to someone's death (sorry, some are related to such sever genital mutilation that procreation is all but impossible). I see nothing in this that makes it any different from any other suggestion for a Darwin, especially since they are all "accidents", albeit with a greater or lesser chance of foreseeability of death or serious injury.

If you are suggesting that the whole concept of the Darwin Awards is tasteless, that is a different thing, but your comment does not suggest that is your point.

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Windows

"...illegal to travel by witchcraft."

ROFLMAO!!!

Someone should tell Harry Potter...But if true, it's tragic that by simply being a Gentleman it costs you your life.

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Fundamental attribution error

No, reversing a Segway off a cliff costs you your life.

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Don't knock what you don't understand.

For a lot of people with cerebral palsy or spinal cord injuries the Segway represents an order of magnitude of improvement over crutches or a wheelchair. Compared to getting around in a wheelchair, using the Segway is a huge improvement for anyone able to use it - all of a sudden you are looking *at* people - instead of *up* at people. I've used both and I'll take a Segway any day of the week (I'm not disabled but I've worked all my life with a lot of people who are disabled).

I've seen them in use at several airports in the USA and a lot of US police forces are starting to use them in relatively dense urban environments - you can laugh all you want to about "fat cops" who should be on foot but if you need a cop which would you prefer - one that just ran 500 yards to get to you, or one fresh off a Segway? You can carry an extensive first-aid kit on a Segway ... think about it.

Locally they are used by the water meter readers who used to drive cars from house to house to read the meters - the Segway has lower carbon emissions than a car idling by the side of the road.

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Are Segways a realistic replacement for motorized wheelchairs?

"For a lot of people with cerebral palsy or spinal cord injuries the Segway represents an order of magnitude of improvement over crutches or a wheelchair. Compared to getting around in a wheelchair, using the Segway is a huge improvement for anyone able to use it - all of a sudden you are looking *at* people - instead of *up* at people. I've used both and I'll take a Segway any day of the week (I'm not disabled but I've worked all my life with a lot of people who are disabled)."

I've worked all my life - quite literally - with a small handful of disabled people as well. I'm not a professional of any sort in this industry, but living with the disabled in your family as a youngster and continuing to be involved keeps you abreast with some of the issues people face in the real world.

Which gets to the crux of my post: it's hard enough to get a powered wheelchair from point A to point B under anything other than it's own power. If you need to drive to, say, the doctor's office, or if it's the middle of winter and there is a foot of snow on the ground, that wheelchair needs to somehow get loaded onto/into a vehicle - which is either hard work (with minor mods to the vehicle), or requires expensive conversions to the vehicle. So what do you do with a Segway? From everything I've been able to tell, they look even harder to transport than a powered wheelchair. Or, from another perspective, for the extra cost of the Segway, you may have been able to have your vehicle converted.

I'm not saying that this doesn't sound like a nice option for many disabled people, but I am curious as to how you handle these problems.

-d

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My feet don't hurt just thinking about it

Basically, anybody who would have to walk doesn't have to. While the natural reaction is "lazy bastards" my first thought when I watched a young amusement park security guard patrolling was that it must suck to have to walk around all day for your job.

Definitely a useful product, even if they are expensive and you wouldn't want everybody to have one.

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not really

having been a postie and a traffic warden (yeah yeah, I was broke - better than the dole). Walking keeps you fit. I piled on the weight when I got a driving job after that.

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@ Daniel 4

"So what do you do with a Segway? From everything I've been able to tell, they look even harder to transport than a powered wheelchair."

Eh? In any decent sized car, you ought to be able to lay half a dozen of them across the back seat. You could at least put one in the front passenger seat, with it's base in the footwell. After all, a Segway is basically just a stick with wheels at one end.

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Pint

Hmmm

Did I understand this correctly, did this guy reverse a wheeled device off a path towards a cliff edge, to let someone pass? Should he have wheeled to the other side of the path away from the cliff?

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@AC 16:27

Yes, you understood what he did correctly. However, without seeing the lay of the land, we don't know if it was even possible for him to go to the other side of the path.

-d

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Tourism

They've found a niche in tourism. You see them all over the place in major cities, tourist attractions, and the like.

In general though they're a lot less popular than the "mobility" scooters favoured by the older generation.

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Looks like we've got us a convoy...

In Boston (and other US Cities) you can take part in a Segway city tour. I had to step aside to allow a motorised column of Japanese tourists and their guide to pass me on the pavement.

Boston seemed quite a pedestrian friendly city and I don't think theses gizmos should be allowed to hog the pavements.

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Go

Pure and Simple

The latest Darwin award recipient. He's the type to slam on the brakes of his automobile to keep from hitting a bunny and endangering his entire family in the process. Stupid is stupid regardless of its gentlemanly connection.

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Re: Pure and Simple

In whichever gutter you spend most of your time it may be unfashionable to show courtesy and respect to other human beings, but you could at least show the memory of the deceased some respect. By many accounts, this was a decent and accomplished man who suffered a tragic accident. Your self-congratulatory and puerile jibes may be part of your typical behavioural routine but they are inappropriate and disrespectful here.

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Netherlands

Yeah, they use them at Eindhoven airport. But again, the stupid laws have messed up their general purpose use over there as well.

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FAIL

Had he been on foot...

...and slipped or lost his balance to his doom, it would be no news. It is a shoddy attempt at damaging Segway's PR.

Given that segways move toward the center of gravity of their users, he would die anyway, riding a segway or not. Isn´t that the principle of segway, the "balancing an upside down broom"? As far I can tell, he just made room for other people moving towards the wrong side of the cliff. I bet you can sue the park for not having hand rails at that point.

Please pedantic grammars, correct my past tense, I am still a student of this language. A beginner one.

By the way, Rest In Peace. If it was a mugger, it would be Good Riddance instead.

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Stop

The death of a major philanthropist should always be news...

...though you are right that he Segway brought a level of sensationalism here we wouldn't have had otherwise. However, Mr. Heselden was sufficiently well known for his acts of charity that his death would have been news even if it had been a case of going quietly in his sleep.

As far as "he would die anyway," I won't 100% rule out traction issues with the Segway as it hit the edge of the cliff, but once again, the same thing can happen with human feet. Personally, I don't see the Segway as a major contributing factor in his death, though it may have been a minor one. Again, though, the type of shoes you wear can be a minor factor as well. Basically, once he was actually at the cliff edge, it was going to take more luck than anything else to keep him alive, and his luck ran out. Sad, but true.

-d

STOP icon because I don't think this article deserved a FAIL, at least, not for it's mere existence.

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segway

Proper use of a segway:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1zmAJ7M4BM

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This is not a title

Given the way a Segway works, it probably flipped over immediately after becoming airborne and drove him headfirst into the ground.

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Trollface

given the way a segway works...

it would right itself up after landing and not during it, because it doesn´t have a flexible or articulated spine, or back muscles; it would behave more like a weighted inflatable dummy, in my opinion.

Or, it would run away trying to right itself up, like a motorcycle (ist) trying a wheelie using just engine torque, which I guess segway designers would have thought in advance if someone deliberately lied one down on the ground. Ow, run-away safety-off switch key linked to bracelets FTW.

And I would place a good bet that this thing is base-heavy (low gravity center) like a trial bike and would almost stand still for quite a while even if its gyros were off. Trial bikers are known for standing on their rides without effort of touching the ground with nothing besides their wheels.

However, a swift motion from the control handlebars while it balances itself could cause some... hammering-waving-bobbing-motion. At crotch height. Uh-oh.

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