Segways are a fun and unique way of touring and traveling through an area with friends. But like other battery operated mobility devices, they come with safety risks. But how dangerous are they? Find out below.
What Is A Segway?
A Segway was invented in 2001, and is categorized as a “personal transporter” by Segway, Inc. It is self-balancing, upright standing, electric, two wheeled vehicle for one person to ride.
How Does A Segway Work?
A segway moves forwards, back, and side to side by detecting the rider’s body shifts. To turn left or right, the rider turns the right handlebar forwards or backwards.
The Segway relies on an electric motor supplied by a battery to propel it. It also has an array of microprocessors and tilt sensors that keep it upright and heading in the right direction.
Are Segways Safe?
Segways are safe when ridden properly and in an open and uncongested area. However, many segway injuries go unreported, and are often minor. However, more serious injuries are possible, including:
- Fractured bones
- Back and neck injuries
- Severe cuts and scrapes
Head injuries are very common in comparison to the other ones and usually require a trip to the emergency room. So, it is very important to always wear a helmet when riding a segway.
Segways come in many different models and a range of sizes. For example, the Ninebot S has dimensions:
- Length x width: 10 x 22 inches. 260 x 548 mm
- Height: 23 inches (595 mm)
Some segway models are more for urbanized areas, while others are made for rougher terrain, such as dirt trails.
Segways are generally made for the ages of 16-50 years old. Segways are big, but small enough to fit inside a garage corner or closet inside an apartment.
Are Segways Street Legal?
Segways share similar characteristics with bikes and motor vehicles, so this is why many people wonder if they are street legal.
The truth is, a Segway is not regulated under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because it is considered a consumer product. This means it falls under the regulation of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The segway is considered as a personal assistive mobility device, similar to an electric wheelchair used by handicapped individuals. Many cities and states allow segways to be used in their vicinity, while others do not. They can certainly be used freely on private property.
Roads and streets where segways are allowed are often where the speed limit is lower. In fact, streets may be the only place segways are allowed, In Colorado, North Dakota, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Wyoming segways are not allowed on sidewalks or bikepaths.
Segways are popular for city tours, and some jurisdictions limit the number of them that can be used, and how fast they can go. Some pedestrian filled areas may be off limits for segway riders. There may also be an age limit to who can ride a segway legally.
Are Segways Federally Banned On Public Roads?
No, segways are not federally banned on public roads, but states and local authorities can decide on which regulations to implement. It is important to check with your state’s vehicle code so see it a segway can be ridden on the state’s roads or not before buying one.
Can Anyone Ride A Segway?
Almost anyone can ride a segway. They are made for persons between 16 and 75 years of age. More importantly, a person’s weight matters as much as their age. A person should weigh atleast 70 lbs to ride a segway. If you are heavier set, make sure the segway you are riding can hold your weight, or it could result in an accident.
Segways can be ridden by children under 16, however many cities have set 16 as a minimum age a segway can be ridden on public roads.
Are Segways Safe For Seniors?
Yes, Segways are safe for seniors up to the age of 75. If you are an older individual and in good shape without vision or balance issues, a Segway can be a great way to get around.
However, if you are older than 65, consider answering these questions:
- Are you physically fit for your age?
- Can you walk up a set of stairs without relying on the hand railing?
- Can you stand on your feet for a long enough amount of time?
- Can you see the terrain clearly and make judgements on where to go?
If both of these answers are “yes”, then riding a segway should not be a problem with enough practice. Make sure you can mount and dismount the segway safely when you need to. It is also important to know how long you can stand on your feet before getting tired, and adjust your trip to fit that.
As people get older, their vision changes, so it is necessary to know if you are able to judge the terrain ahead of you and whether you should ride the segway on it. Segways are best ridden on smoothe, or only slightly bumpy terrain.
Segway Safety Tips
And while they can provide thrills, they can also provide spills. To prevent this, you can follow these helpful Segway safety tips:
- Keep both feet stable on the Segway platform.
- Grip both hands firmly on the handlebar.
- Do not play with your smartphone while riding a Segway.
- Do not accelerate or stop too fast, as you can lose balance and fall off.
- Only ride a segway on smoothe terrain.
- Don’t ride a segway over obstacles.
- Avoid steep hills when riding a segway.
- Follow all the city and state segway laws and regulations.
- Wear a helmet and safety gear at all times.
How Fast Is A Segway?
Many people ask “how fast can a segway go?” The answer is not simple.
Most segways fall into the speed range of 5 -15 mph. Modified or enhanced segways can reach speeds much faster, although this is not considered safe.
Segway Top Speed
Segways can go fast, but not very fast. Most segway models will reach a top speed of around 20 mph. However, special or modified versions of segways can go much faster than that, even up to 50 mph. These should only be ridden by fit and experienced riders wearing proper safety gear.
A Segway’s top speed also depends on the size of the rider and the terrain they are on. Segways can accelerate quickly, which can add to the thrill of riding them. Most riders find 10-12 mph comfortable enough while giving them the speed they desire.
Types of Segways
Segways are personal transporters that are ridden while standing up and feature two large wheels and a handle bar. There are multiple types of segways available, including:
- Segway i2 SE – Professional segway for use in warehouses
- Segway x2 SE – for use on rough and challenging terrain
- Segway Robot – An autonomous Segway robot similar to the Segway miniPro
- Ninebot by Segway E+ – general purpose Segway scooter
- Ninebot by Segway miniPro – smaller Segway for general use, with a knee control bar
The Segway I2 comes in several versions. These include the I2 Commuter, the I2 Cargo, and the I2 Golf.
The Segway X family is designed for more adventurous riders heading out on rougher terrain. These include the X2 basline, the X2 Adventure, and the X2 Turf. Each one has different dimensions, and many include wider tires for a stronger center of gravity.
Types Of Segway Batteries
Segways use Lithium Ion batteries and are rechargeable. Additional segway batteries are available that can extend their range, adding 10 miles or more to their distance. These batteries should be backwards compatible with previous segway models.
Segway Battery Sizes
Segways have standard battery sizes that fit each model. Generally, the batteries are the following size:
Dimensions: 14 x 7.5 x 3.2 in (35.7 x 19 x 8.2 cm)
Weight of battery: 22.7 lbs (10.3 kg)
How Long Do Segway Batteries Last?
A fully charged segway battery should last 2-3 days of part time riding around the neighborhood or campus. For fully, non-stop riding, the battery may last about 6 hours. There is no way to know exactly how long the charge will last as it also depends on how it is ridden and the weight of the rider.
Segway Batter Lifespan
Segway batteries are designed to last 500 charging cycles, with charging up to ≥ 70% battery capacity. They will last less if they are mistreated, ie, damaged, overcharged, or overdrained.
Segway Battery Replacement
Replacement batteries can be either Lithium Ion, or Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4). Lithium iron phosphate batteries have longer battery lives and power densities than lithium ion batteries. These can be enhanced distance batteries, or standard replacements. These should be backwards compatible with previous segway versions.
Are Segways Easy To Ride?
Yes, segways are very easy to ride. Beginners may struggle for a short time, but will soon get the hang of it with a little practice. Segways can make a trip that is too short for a drive, but too far for walking go quickly and easily.
Segways are so easy to ride in fact, that many tour companies operate segways and let their customers ride them around with minimal experience.
There is a not-so steep learning curve with riding a segway that goes as follows:
- Initial nervousness about riding a segway
- Being pleasantly surprised with how easy it actually is, along with bending their knees as shock absorbers.
- Pushing the segway to see what it is capable of.
With a little practice, anyone can learn to ride a segway and have fun doing it!
Can You Fall Off A Segway?
Yes, in fact falling while riding a segway is a major cause of injuries. Segways are two-wheeled self-balancing electric personal transporters that carry the rider while they are standing upright. If the segway manages to get away from the rider, as in they lose balance, then the rider can certainly fall off.
How To Lose Control Of A Segway
A rider can lost control a segway if they hit rough terrain, a large bump in the road or pathway, or if they go too fast and turn too sharply. A person can lose control of segway if they suddenly approach an unexpected pedestrian crossing, and try to avoid them.
This is why it is important to always wear a helmet and pads and keep your eyes on the path ahead of you.
Can Segways Catch On Fire?
Yes, Segways can catch on fire. This is usually due to manufacturing defects from 3rd party companies with production in China. Many of these segway products do not conform to USA standards.
To get better prices, many companies cut corners to do so. The charger is particularly at risk of causing fire to break out. This can happen when it is left on too long and overheats. At this point, the charger will short circuit, causing it to ignite and even explode.
This is why its important to only buy segways from trusted sources. Also, always charge them while they sit on fire proof surfaces and never leave them charging overnight.
Are Segways Legal In NYC?
A motor vehicle is defined as any vehicle that operates upon a public highway. The vehicle must be propelled by any source of power other than human muscles. This means segways, which are electric personal assistive mobility devices, fall under the category of motor vehicles.
Many people also do not realize that a public highway by definition includes sidewalks.
New York City street laws thus define a segway as a motor vehicle. This means it must be registerd and insured. If it is not insured, the rider’s license can be revoked for up to one year.
Are Segways Allowed In NYC Central Park?
No, Segways are not allowed in Central Park due to safety reasons. This means that no tour company can offer Segways to their customers for rent. If you ride a Segway in Central Park you could recieve a ticket by a Central Park Ranger or NYPD officer.
Segway Battery Problems
Segways can have some battery or power problems. You may have had to deal with the following:
Segway will not power on, even when the charger shows green
This is because the Ninebot goes into a kind of “sleep mode” when the battery is not used for a long time. This could be due to the segway having sat in the warehouse for too long and it let the battery discharge. This will put it into battery saver mode to prevent the lithium ion battery from totally discharging.
The solution is to make sure the warranty is still good by calling segway. Then pull the battery out and charge it for 4 hours and reinstall it when finished. However, this might not work and will require a replacement battery.
Segway’s Battery Did Not Last Long
This can be due to a faulty battery, or that it was fully drained. A completely drained Lithium Ion Battery will have a shorter lifespan. Also, overcharging the battery chould damage it to the point of not working, or even catching fire.
Replacement batteries can also be of low quality materials and manufacturing, resulting in a battery that does not last a long time.
Segway can be a fun way to ride around your local area and are generally considered safe. However, accidents can happen, so always wear proper safety gear and lookout for others on the path in front of you.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.