Segway tours in Jesmond Dene this spring?
A proposal to license the use of Segway “personal transporters” in Jesmond Dene is being considered by Newcastle City Council, it has been confirmed.
Ouseburn Parks manager Seamus Tollitt has told JesmondLocal that the proposal is for a business to operate guided tours through Jesmond Dene as well as Heaton and Armstrong Parks. The tours of six to eight Segways would be guided by a leader at the front, and another guide at the rear.
It is currently illegal to ride Segways on roads and in January a Barnsley man became the first person in the UK to be successfully prosecuted for riding a Segway scooter on a pavement. However, it is legal to ride them “off road”.
Many cities in the US, and increasingly Europe, offer Segway tours to tourists. Dublin and Glasgow are among the latest, and a Segway dealer called Lakeland Segway has begun offering tours in the Lake District.
The Segway is a “silent”, electric, two-wheeled, self-balancing machine which can travel as far as 24 miles on a single battery charge. It was invented in the US by Dean Kamen and following much hype was launched in 2001.
The top speed of a Segway is 12.5mph and Segways are legal for use on pavements in more than 30 American states and in Portugal, Sweden, the Czech Republic and some German cities. But some regular users of the Dene have expressed concern that their use could put at risk the health and safety of pedestrians.
Tollitt says representatives from the various “friends of” groups that look after the interests of Jesmond Dene and the Ouseburn parks were invited to a taster session a couple of weeks ago and while many were initially skeptical, their response to the idea was more positive by the end of the session.
Councillors of the wards surrounding the parks have been consulted about the proposal and, according to Tollitt – who declined to name the company involved – tours could begin as soon as the spring if the business making the bid is able to demonstrate that appropriate insurance and health and safety assessments and measures are all in place. It is understood the business is also interested in conducting Segway tours along Newcastle Quayside.