First, a word of caution: the above link will lead you to an article written in french.
Now, let's move to our topic of the day. I guess you all have heard about the Segway, this two-wheeled battery-powered scooter invented by Dean Kamen.
San Francisco banned it from its sidewalks late last year. Now, a number of other Bay Area cities -- from Oakland to Santa Cruz -- are considering the same move. Check "No way for Segways? More cities may ban scooter" for details.
Meanwhile, the city of Besançon, in the East of France, is experimenting Segways. City employees are using them to look at car park meters throughout the city since mid-December 2002.
"It replaces the van used to deal up to now with the ticket machines and has the advantage of being non-polluting and of being able to slip everywhere", explains Jean-Paul Girardier, director of Via Stationnement, the company which exploits the car parks of the city.
"If the experiment is conclusive, explained Jean-Louis Fousseret, mayor of Besancon, the city could rent more Segways, in particular to propose them to the general public for shopping inside or touring the city".
In fact, city officials think that the Segway has a grand future: reduce traffic jams in Besançon. When people from the suburbs come downtown, they use public transportation if they go to one single location -- like going to work. But if they have to do something special during the day throughout the city which exceeds a kilometer or so, they take their car.
So these city officials think that the Segway is the missing link in public transportation. If people can rent a Segway for one hour to do their shopping downtown, they'll leave their cars at home and use buses in the mornings and evenings.
I'm somewhat skeptical, considering the love french people have for their cars, but who knows? Other french cities are renting bicycles for the same purpose with some successes.
Sources: Agence France-Presse, January 7, 2003; Matt Marshall, San Jose Mercury News, January 8, 2003
11:21:36 AM Permalink