A Battle Between North End Residents And Tourists On Segways

By Christina Hager, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – There’s a battle rolling onto Boston’s sidewalks pitting pedestrians against tourists on futuristic wheels.

Residents in the North End have been complaining about an onslaught of Segway riders invading their neighborhood.

“They’re a pain in the butt, especially on like Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays,” said John Gargano. “It creates a nuisance. It creates a hazard.”

That’s why the Boston City Council members voted unanimously to ban Segways from city sidewalks.

Joe Ingram, who’s with a Segway tour company called Boston Glides, says that would push them right into the streets. “It would be a nightmare. I mean keeping everyone together in a line and close and safe and watching their wheels to make sure their wheels don’t tag a car or a curb.”

WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager reports

He says it would put the company out of business. “We already have tours booked through the summer. I don’t know what we’ll do.”

Mayor Tom Menino tells WBZ he plans to sign the Segway sidewalk ban into law.

Boston Glides has filed an injunction in federal court to try to block the new law.

Tourists say they hope the Segway tours stick around. “It was really easy, took 2 minutes to learn how to do it, and you can see a lot of the city in a short period of time,” said Gail Lewis who was visiting with her family from Phoenix.

More from Christina Hager
  • beantownbrawler

    The residents were there long before the tourists came and they will be there long after the tourists leave, my vote is for the residents! Perhaps the tourists should stop being lazy and try a new concept called….WALKING! I hear its healthy!

    • lexicondevil

      Please…the residents were there first, sure. However, it doesn’t do anybody any good to push out tourists in a flagging economy. And for those who say the tourists should walk, why punish the small business?

    • Kist Miass

      Yeah, and next we go after the fat people in motorized wheel chairs.

      • Azog

        Fat people, not walking and burning calories, riding on electric chairs. The people who should be walking more. Yep lets not point that out.

      • kittiesinMD

        Ignorance is on display here in all its glory. Which came first – the wheelchair or the weight? The insensitive healthy don’t stop to contemplate what life is like with Multiple Sclerosis, for example, or that people with one disease like that develop others like Hypothyroidism, Hashimodos, or Diabetes as their immune system further breaks down and causes excessive weight gain. Exercise – when they can barely move. Eat less – except they already do. It’s easier to judge than empathize.

      • Katie

        I have two aunts with MS, in wheelchairs, who are overweight. They can’t walk more than a few steps at a time. You want to punish them? You’re a bunch of bigots. Don’t judge people until you know their stories. I bet there is a lot about all of you that isn’t healthy. How many of smoke, drink too much, eat bad, don’t get enough exercise?

    • KittiesinMD

      This isn’t simply anti-tourist, which is dumb for any city because tourists bring money. This is also anti-elder and anti-handicapped who also use these devices for mobility. What will they ban next – motorized wheelchairs?

      • Segways are allowed for the handicapped...

        The Boston ordinance allows for Segways to be used by those with disabilities, which is also controversial since Segways have not been approved by the FDA as a medical device. In addition to having a questionable safety record, they are silent, heavy and can go 12 mph which makes them a hazard to those with other disabilities.

        The American Council of the Blind oppose Segways on sidewalks, even for those with disabilities, and have actively lobbied against any such legislation.

        Also, nobody is coming to Boston specifically to ride a Segway. If these tourists take a walking tour or a trolley, they will not just zoom by local businesses, but walk in and spend money. Let them spend their money with a responsible business owner!

    • Joe

      I agree – it is also much better for tourists to ride on soot belching diesel tour buses. The CO2 that is produce is also much better for the environment.

      • Albert911emt

        @ImposterInChief – Why do you hate science? Scientific facts bother you that much do they? People like you are evidence of why education in this country sucks.. Believing in creationism, and that pollution doesn’t exist, are proof of how far this country has fallen.

      • james4usa

        Modern diesels burn cleaner than your Prius.

      • ImposterInChief

        Quit buying into the lie that there is a “CO2” problem. You actually exhale it. Try not breathing if still an issue for ya.

    • Jack

      Wow. So the most liberal city in the country is throwing out a decidedly liberal invention. I remember all the hype when these things came out, they acted like this thing would replace the car.

      It’s kind of like Obama, it was the flav of the month until you see what a pain in the @ss they are in reality.

    • K Shaw

      I agree one hundred percent. It’s against the law to ride bicycles on sidewalks, and these things are just as bad. I’ve been to this part of Boston, and enjoyed walking through the area, taking my time to see everything and visit several businesses along the way. These people are just LAZY…. Which is part of what’s wrong with this country these days.

    • rlm4


    • KDOG

      but what about the money the tourists spend that goes back into the community and allow people to live and work there.

  • Stephen

    Sidewalks are designed for pedestrian travel .
    As to the wheel – limit the sidewalks to baby strollers, and disability needs..
    All other wheels can get a permit for the legal use of the road, or an ordinance violation for misuse of the sidewalk.

  • Leighanne Page

    Although I’m not a fan of Segways, a total ban on them will be problematic from the standpoint that such a ban discriminates against people with legitimate walking disabilities. When motor cars were first invented, people probably likewise attempted toget them banned from the streets because they were loud and scared their horses.

    • gphx

      Agreed. The Segway was originally designed as a solution for disabled people and happened to appeal to a much wider audience. This will probably go to court and the disabled will be forced to display signs indicative of their status, pointing themselves out as easy targets for crime in the process.

      • Mal Content

        Wrong. The Segway was invented by Dean Kamen as an alternative to the automobile for short distance travel, not as transportation for the handicapped. That does not even make sense. You have to stand up to use it…

    • Kelly

      BS… I live in Washington DC and see these Segway tourists everywhere. They are a nuisance and I have NEVER seen a handicapped person using one. If someone is genuinely handicapped and needs a device to get around, I think we are all sympathetic, but 99% of the users are just tourists who are too lazy to walk or bicycle. I hope DC bans ’em too.

      • JES

        Kelly is COMPLETELY correct. I also live in city-center DC, and walk to work across The Mall every morning & evening. In the evenings, the Segway groups crowd at sidewalk intersection crossings and end up blocking out pedestrians from quickly, efficiently and safely walking. I wish this ban would go into effect in DC as well. These Segway tour companies are as bad as the bike tour companies here in DC; bikes are banned by DC code from sidewalks in downtown DC, yet I ALWAYS see tour company bikes riding on the sidewalks in rush-hour pedestrian traffic. The Segway people do the same thing. When these tour companies learn the law, learn how to apply the law and learn how to inform their patrons of the law as well, then maybe I’d have some simpathy for them. But NOT in this case….drive the Segway tour companies out of business!!

      • Linda

        In DC, the Segways don’t bother me so much. It is the rickshaws that need to go! That, or they need to ban buses and vendor parking on 15th street. 15th can’t take anymore traffic during rush hour. Don’t even get me started on the bikers. I think what they are doing is great, but they can’t expect cars to treat them the same unless they follow all rules of the road, which includes not riding between cars, stopping at stop signs and not going on a red light! I saw a bus take out a bike messenger on 15th last week….the bus was getting over and didnt’ see the guy on the bike speeding through traffic in between the cars. Lucklily, his bike got the worst of it!

        Also, I should check, but I wonder if DC allows the Segways on sidewalks. I know bikers will get a ticket if they are found riding on the sidewalk in DC.

    • Speedstan

      [people probably likewise attempted toget them banned from the streets because they were loud and scared their horses.]

      Actually, that’s exactly what happened…

  • Bloo

    I agree with the residents – OFF THE SIDEWALK!! The person who owns this company obviously did not check with the proper authorities prior to opening his business to iron out any probable issues as important as this one. Unfortunate, but I hope the residents win!!

    • Kana

      It’s possible that when the Segway companies started there were no ordinances in place governing there use.

  • Sloan

    The USA suffers an of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. The sidewalks are for pedestrians NOT motorized vehicles! The Segway is an idiotic machine used by those too lazy to walk, or bike, or roller blade, or skate board. Motorized vehicles belong on the street!

    • Alice Ramirez

      Also by the elderly and mobility-impaired who find walking either impossible or painful. Not everyone is ablebodied!

    • mdavid


      The only redeeming thing I can say about the Segway is that it must have grown enough of a conscience to hurl itself over a cliff edge with its creator aboard.


    • PowerPC

      No Segways but bikes, roller blades and skateboards are OK on the sidewalk? That sounds stupid……

  • Ferial

    Th sidewalks in Boston are narrow and heavily used (Boston is known as a “walking city”). I’m grateful for our City Councilors’ vote.



    • Segway killer...

      Salem is working on banning them too! The same tour operator is there and he’s already angering people with his irresponsible operation. That’s why the Segway company keeps trying to stop him. Wherever he goes, Segways are soon banned.

    • floyddabarer

      Apparently Menino’s “envelope” didn’t get delivered.

  • BOB

    The company should expand to include a fleet of those electric carts for groups of

    retired people who want to tour historic Boston.

    • Kelly

      Bob, “retired people” are not by definition disabled. If you’re legally disabled and need an electric cart to tour Boston, then fine, get a permit. If you’re just retired, the city is not legally required to accommodate you at the inconvenience of others.

  • Tourlover

    When people are in town for business and only have a few hours to see what the city has to offer Segway is a great tour! Also, the city us discriminating by only banning Segway rather than regulating all touring companies. Don’t be afraid of the technology and play the obesity card, it’s a time saver and a fun way to see all that historic Boston has to offer.

    • Treat them the same...

      Fine, they can see it from the street with the other motorized vehicles and the bicycles, which are also not allowed on the street. Why are we discriminating against the duckboats? Let’s let them on the sidewalk too!

    • tnpitgal

      If you only have a few hours, why do you expect to have a right to “see” all the sights? Sounds like another irresponsible driver in too much of a hurry.

  • beantownbrawler

    To those in favor of the Segway tours, if the tours had no negative impact on the residents who live their lives in these neighborhoods every day I would have no problem with them. The technology is amazing and I am sure it is a fun way to see a city, and I agree they can be of particular use for those with ill health or disabilities. And yes other problems do still exist such as triple parking etc. However, the reality of it is, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the country and the historic North End one of the oldest parts of the city. As a result, the streets and sidewalks are painfully narrow, winding and crowded. Nobody is discriminating against the tour, by continuing as-is its descriminating against the residents.The North End has a large resident population of senior citizens who have lived their lives here, they enjoy their walks, should they be pushed to the side because of a bunch of rubbernecking tourists who typically (but not always) are in their own world and care very little for those around them? I dont think so. What makes the North End a tourist attraction is its history, its quaint european feel, its narrow streets, open markets and most of all, its residents. 98% of those who do the tours are young, able bodied adults and kids who are either too lazy to walk or are more concerned about the novelty of riding on a segway than actually in taking in the area. And for the pro-segway poster who commented about someone who has little time…really? have you been to Boston? How about the North End? An average person can walk the entire city core in an hour or two and can traverse the North End in mere minutes…this aint NYC or London! Move the tour to the Common or the waterfront, keep it out of the North End!

    • Flashman1854

      The most pointed, concise, and logical post here. Bravo!

      I need add no more, you’ve said it all.

    • Fahey59

      I agree, but these people may not necessarily be lazy, but just wantt to do something different on their vacation that looks like fun.

    • Retired SOF guy

      Seriously? The residents aren’t what makes it a tourist attraction, nor so much the “quaint European feel” or narrow streets per se. It’s the history. Perhaps there is a middle ground solution. It doesn’t sound like one was considered. As an American from “flyover country” too often I’ve been a tourist on vacation, particularly where the attraction is something historic, and I’ve been appalled at the attitude of the locals who despise us tourists, yet at the same time absolutely love fleecing us with inflated prices for lodging and food, as well as specific taxes on those (not a lot of locals pay lodging taxes, but they enjoy the fruits). Similarly, more than once I’ve been at a local non-chain restaurant where locals were charged a different rate (the last time was in the touristy Brown County/Nashville IN).

      Oh, and nice vitriol towards “the fat, diabetic, couch-potato” tourists throughout these various replies. Way to stay on point.

  • longtimeDotguy

    Maybe Tommy and the crew can rethink this “ban” to be more like a zoning ordinance. They could come up with different rules for different places, banning the devices from sidewalks in places where they are hazardous and allowing them in others, with appropriate signs or other indications of which is which, and permits for tour operators so we know they understand the rules for groups.

    • cattyfan

      **Gasp** A logical and rational response.

      Unheard of….

  • Wm

    Good old commie yankies. Restrict. Restrict. Restrict. Sure is nice to be a southerner.

    • Nick

      like southerners don’t restrict, yeah.

    • IggyRules

      You said friend. Silly left coast pie eaters.

    • ItsSpelledYankeesGenius

      … unless you happen to be one’a them gays, of course.

  • GD

    How about walking? Segways are a stupid novelty.

    • John Marshall

      Segway was the worst business flop in fifty years. The inventor found someone dumb enogh to unload his usless machines on to. That buyer promptly killed himself driving a segway off a cliff. They were banned from sidewalks from day one. The tour company knew they were banned from sidewalks.
      The segway remains a solution in search of a problem.

  • beenaroundyaknow

    The people in the picture are certainly capable of walking. It’s a fad for spoiled people who can afford the rental. Time to stop pandering to the “green movement”

  • Scott Martin

    More green jobs down the drain…Isn’t Boston / MA where the Kennedy’s stopped a wind farm? In the good ole’ days, if someone was intrusive or offensive, you could just punch them and not worry about anything other than having to handle yourself. Government is not the solution, it is the problem.

  • Otto

    Welcome to Boston – Greetech capitol of innovation and… ooops – sorry. We will put all those tourists back on WWII style duck boats to clog the streets and pollute the river.

    If you see the word “beantown” anywhere in a comment, you know that person is not from Boston. NO ONE here calls it Beantown.

  • http://www.fastnews.tv/?p=18933 ENOUGH: Boston To Ban Segways From Sidewalks... | Breaking News

    […] (First column, 6th story, link) […]

  • http://annabellelea.wordpress.com annabellelea

    Common courtesy.
    You don’t allow bicycles on the sidewalk, why allow these contraptions?

  • FloridaNative

    Funny we feel the same about you when you come to Florida in the winter and drive slow, blocking our roads! If you are from New England stay home, especially if you are coming to retire/die. Old New Englanders are miserable people, we want more midwesterners to retire down here, they are really a lot nicer people.

  • Kerry

    Joe – move your business to downtown Oklahoma City. They will welcome you with open arms. Downtown OKC is in the first phase of Project 180 to redo every street downtown. Part of the project is to add bike/alternative vehicle lanes to every street. Plus, you can still ride Segways on the sidewalks. A thousand new residential units will be coming on-line soon adding to the thousand other units recently completed so you could clean up doing leases or rent-to-own deals as people in OKC start to ditch their car. A new downtown streetcar is also under development that will be Segway friendly. Plus, you won’t get taxed to death or regulated out of business.

    • kishke

      Problem with that plan is that no one’s interested in touring downtown Oklahoma City.

      • kittiesinMD

        I am now. Thanks for the info about OKC, Kerry. It sounds tourist friendly and I’ll look into it.

  • ok to complain but...

    The longterm residents certainly have every right to complain about the nuisance of these segways. Just please don’t whine or go to the Federal govt with open arms begging for more stimulus dollars when your property taxes get even more astronomical because you see fit to turn away tourist dollars, and jobs in those industries. It might have cost Pres. Ford the state of NY when the Daily News ran the DROP DEAD NY headline but it was the right choice at a time of huge inflation, and high interest rates but NYC saw fit to keep free tuition at its colleges and unbelievable Union contracts for which they are still suffering today. This was a time that NY wasn’t quite GENETICALLY democrat (I define a genetic democrat location as any place where you have more folks living off govt dollars=democrat then you do the folks paying taxes=republican to support those that are unable to contribute to the tax base. Currently half the country pays taxes and the other half lives off them which is why we really are a 50-50 country.)

    Margaret Thatcher said it best, Socialism is great until you run out of other peoples money to spend

    • alleydweller

      Democrats don’t pay taxes? I wish I’d known that.

      • Retired SOF guy

        As a demographic, they don’t. The poster was referring to income taxes, not sales or payroll. And Dems are more likely to be on the receiving end of redistribution than on the giving (what a misnomer, it’s taken by force) end. Voting and “assistance” demographics bear this out. What I can’t understand is how any working person can vote Democrat.

  • Tax and Move

    License them, tag them, tax them and move them into the street.

    • WhatGoodIsASegway

      You are correct sir!

      Bicycles and other wheeled vehicles have always been restricted from using sidewalks just putting the wheels side by side doesn’t alter the wheels and they have always known it. Either the segway is safe on the street or it should be restricted to areas built for it’s use. You know the only actual use I could see for the thing was for postoffice delivery but then the larger scale boxes went up allowing a postal employee to down load an entire neighborhood worth of mail at a single point and even that use was gone. Tourists getting to see an entire 15 mile area up close without being worn out during a two hour “walking tour” was a novel idea but it doesn’t really work out with our national infrastructure being primarily car based.

  • Morgan

    Roads should be for cars. Sidewalks for everything else. It is the only safe solution. I doubt anyone has ever been killed by a Segway on a sidewalk; however, I’m sure many people walking or riding bikes/segways on the road have been run over. Society is actually slipping into a scary state of control. Watch out, freedom is on the decline!

    • mark

      Yes freedom is in a decline but to say roads should be for cars,…well the world is not that simplistic. To be walking down a sidewalk and have 8-15 Segways coming at you can be dangerous. Read the article, some people only have a 2 minute trainnig session on these things. In the old days, everyone would get on a tour bus and take a trip. Another factor is many of these streets are from the time of horse and buggies so the attent of cars on these narrow roads compounds the problem. Oddly the pedestrians don’t want the Segways on the sidewalk because they pose a danger while the Segway riders don’t want to be in the street because the cars pose a danger. Interesting predicament.

    • Karl La Fong

      Well, Mr. Smug, let me run a Segway into you at full speed and we’ll see if your theory holds up to reality.

    • J

      I live in Atlanta and these things are all over downtown and the problem is you have to watch for them coming down the side walk. Why should I have to watch for tourist staring up at building zipping down the side walk in ignorant bliss?

  • http://thecryptojournalist.wordpress.com The Cryptojournalist

    Tourists choose to ride Segways? Isn’t that humiliating enough


  • Robert

    Where’s the freedom to live in this town?

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