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Student Note Idea: Segways in the Park

I find the topic of technology-specific rules fascinating & I have really learned a lot about law and rules from reading Fred Schauer’s work.  He has a recent paper on SSRN about the famous example of a rule prohibiting “vehicles in the park.”  It got me wondering about Segways in the park.  Are they vehicles?  So I Googled, and, as it turns out, there’s some interesting stuff to be found.

For instance:

  • A British MP says: “The British Government seems paralysed with indecision. On the one hand, they say that the Segway PT isn’t legal. On the other hand, they are unable to point to a single scrap of evidence in British law to show why they should be banned.”

  • Japan says no dice: “Currently, it is prohibited to ride a Segway on public ways in Japan by the Road Traffic Law.”  But this may change!
  • In Iowa city, the debate rages: “Although a 2002 state law allows Segways on sidewalks and bike paths, it leaves specifics up to local governments. And Mayor Regina Bailey said Segways are too big and potentially fast to mix with pedestrian on downtown sidewalks.”  (This article includes reporting on some of the controversies in other states.)
  • Segway maintains a page on regulatory information — informing us that “As of July 2008, 43 states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation to allow use of Segway PTs on sidewalks, bike paths, and certain roads.”  Only 7 more to go!
  • And finally, here’s a page from an expert witness in bicycle accident lawsuits, complaining that certain entities have “written the law” in this area.

Fascintating stuff.  Very current stuff.  Yet I just took a look on Lexis and couldn’t spot anyone opining in secondary literature about all this Segway hubbub.

So, if you’re looking for a law and tech student note topic, may I suggest: “Segways in the Park”?  I know they look silly, but I do think it would make a good Note topic.