Nags Head pulls plug on bike path Segway tours

By on October 6, 2010

Nags Head took Segways for a test drive on the Beach Road multi-use path and said no thanks.

Safety concerns and an unwanted commercial use of a public area led the Board of Commissioners on Wednesday to pull the plug on tours using the two-wheel electric vehicles along the path.

Earlier this year, the board had approved allowing a Richmond company to offer Segway tours of Nags Head’s historic cottage district. The company had asked for access to the multi-use path because using N.C. 12 would have been impractical.

Commissioner Renee Cahoon, who voted against the original proposal, has been trying to get the board to reconsider for several months.

Her proposal to ban Segways from the multi-use path was tabled last month because Commissioner Anna Sadler, the needed third vote for passage, was absent.

Sadler said Wednesday that she had received several e-mails about the Segways. The path, she said, is not wide enough to accommodate all of the uses. It is popular with walkers, runners and bicyclists.

Commissioner Doug Remaley said the board had decided to allow the Segways for a year and see if there were any problems.

“I haven’t heard any complaints,” he said.

Mayor Bob Oakes said he saw the use of the path by Segways as “fairly innocuous.”

The amendment to the rules for operating Segways in the town bans them on multi-use paths, sidewalks and town of Nags Head property. They can be operated on town streets under certain conditions.

Wednesday’s vote in favor of the amendment was 3-2, with Remaley and Oakes voting against it.

When it decided to allow Segways on the path, the town cited a state law that said they must be treated the same as pedestrians.

While a town can regulate when, where and how they are operated, it cannot ban “electric personal assistive mobility devices” from roads and bike paths.

Commissioners decided to limit the hours to between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and cap the speed limit at 6 mph. Segway of Richmond, partnering with Kitty Hawk Kites, offered two one-hour tours a day for $70 a rider.

Cahoon also initiated a resolution in July asking for local regulatory authority over the multi-use paths.

The resolution said the town wanted to make exceptions for motorized wheelchairs but “the use of ‘Segways’ increases the potential for the risk of accidents and decreases the desirability of the multi-use path for all other users.”

see the Segway ordinance »


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January 22, 2011 8:55 am

I purchased a Segway last year due to a minor knee injury, and I love my new method of getting around. I still have a car, but why drive those short trips, when the Segway is just as convenient, not to mention inexpensive to operate.

I have recovered from my injuries, but the Segway gets more use than ever. I have racked up over 1200 miles on mine in less than a year. My only detractors so far seem to be those who think I look so silly while riding it, that they have to shout out the window of their SUV’s as they roll by mocking me. I have not yet encountered any such issues with those who actually share my paths and roads, because there are no issues to resolve. A smile and a wave is the customary greeting.

I share many roads and paths on my way to and from work and the store with a steady stream of walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and even power chairs like the “HoverRound” without incident.

I believe that’s because the vast majority of the citizenry in any area act very responsibly any time their actions could effect others. Every during my travels everyone I meet seems to manage to avoid each other without incident, or accident.

When they don’t is when we should punish them for their infractions.

Banning Segway’s from your area is silly and short sighted. Every safety study produced worldwide has concluded that they are extremely safe when encountering other user types, and in fact have the shortest stopping distance/ reaction time to any other wheeled vehicle out there including bicycles.

(Don’t believe me Google it yourself)

My guess is that those who are calling for the “Ban on Segway’s” most likely have never ridden one. If they had they would understand the intuitive nature of how the device operates and the high degree of control available to even a novice Segway rider.

You guys at the beach should move on to a topic that actually involves some actual damages, or injuries to at least one person before wasting time and money writing ordinances that only want me to plan my vacation elsewhere.

How many people were hurt last year in your area on bicycles? I bet it was a lot more than were run over by some crazed leather wearing Segway rider! Oh Yeah! while we are at it we should ban those loud obnoxious Harley’s that cause so much noise pollution. Plus that, have you seen the safety records of those people!!

We should also ban Kite boarding while we are at it. The safety record for that activity is also dismal. 3 people killed worldwide in just the last month!!

Really OBX!!! I bet when gas hits $4.00+ a gallon this spring (ABC news report last night) you will re-think how we all get around town.


October 11, 2010 12:05 pm

Again, Nags Head proves its intolerance of small business and out of the box thinking. Meanwhile, while they limit small business with over regulation the town commissioners scratch their heads with budget issues and a deficit of tax revenues.

If such are banned from town property because they are commercial in nature, then the argument should be made that any vehicle that advertises its business with signage and travels on public streets should also be banned. Taxis make their money on public accesses.

It’s not the segways that are dangerous. It’s the limited visibility of drivers pulling out of driveways and parking lots that have to cross the path in order to get to the beach road. There’s the safety issue.


October 8, 2010 12:02 am

Why is Kitty Hawk Kites allowed to operate a huge profit business on a state park?

John Lane

October 7, 2010 8:30 pm

Just another reason I’m glad I don’t live in Nags Head.

The Taxpayer

October 7, 2010 2:42 pm

The Republic of Nags Head strikes again!

Joy Thompson

October 7, 2010 1:42 pm

As another person here pointed out, even strollers take up more room than a Segway. So space on the path is not the issue. The issue is ignorance about the product. Seems to me the people who voted against Segways have never ridden a Segway. If they had, they’d realize there’s nothing to fear. They are much safer than bicycles. If you’re truly worried about pedestrian safety, then you should definitely ban the bikes too. Bikes go much faster, have many more injuries, and take much longer to stop than a Segway. As for the dig about the Segway owner’s recent death, it wasn’t the Segway that was at fault. It was simply a matter of him traveling too close to the edge of a cliff. I guarantee you that a bicyclist would have met the same fate under the same circumstances.

Rob Morris

October 7, 2010 9:56 am

They can’t be used on sidewalks or multi-use paths, as part of a tour or otherwise. I’ve posted a copy of the ordinance if you want to see it in more detail.


October 7, 2010 9:04 am

So I cannot operate one on the multipath for personal use?

I fail to see how these take up more room than double and triple stollers, and bikes with kid trailers. I’m betting you have more of those on the path than personal-use Segways.

I agree that Segways on any town property for commercial use should not be allowed.


October 7, 2010 7:53 am

Good call N H; get out and walk people


October 7, 2010 6:29 am

How were they able to ban them if, as this article states, State law says they must be treated no different than walkers?

Mike the Biker

October 6, 2010 11:34 pm

Segways are downright dangerous. Forget about the owner of Segway who got himself killed on one recently, Faceplants are common occurrences for the riders as is falling over on a hill or bump.

Riding a bike, even an electric one where you can still pedal, makes more sense. Ban the goofy things everywhere.

Bob Neiderlander

October 6, 2010 8:01 pm

I think they are a novel way of transporation. When we were in Washington for the Glen Beck and the 9/11 and 12 ralleys those things were all over the mall area. There were hundreds of thousands of people in and on the mall and there were no problems. the Segways blended in with the walkers, runners, wheel chairs, did not see any run over. Did see two bicks run into each other, no one hurt.

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