MANCHESTER, NH: The Segway Human Transporter, a hi-tech computerized scooter that grabbed the country's imagination when it debuted this past December, is quietly racing through America's state legislatures at a pace that belies its 12mph top speed.In just five months, the company that makes Segway has pushed legislation through 23 state governments that will make the device legal on sidewalks, among other things. Two more states have bills lacking only a signature, while a dozen more are scheduled to take up the issue before year's end.
Without the new laws, the hi-tech scooter, hyped as "It
in the months prior to its unveiling, would fall under ordinances intended for bicycles or motorcycles in many states, making it illegal on sidewalks and inoperable without a license.
The routine is simple and oft-repeated. Matthew Dailida, Segway's manager of state government affairs, travels state to state with his ready-made legislation and, often, a Segway transporter in tow. Through the help of a local government-relations shop - and a few joy rides for elected officials - the legislation is put into play, usually overcoming the resistance of safety advocates with ease.
According to Brian Toohey, Segway's VP for international and regulatory affairs, the company has spent less than $1 million on the campaign.
The device will be available for consumer purchase by the end of 2002, at $3,000. The company hopes by then to have changed laws in all 50 states.