By Rob Morris on October 6, 2010
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.”