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gbrandwood 08-22-2008 06:30 PM

The Unofficial Segway Code
This idea started out as a post in another thread but I thought it might deserve it's own thread.

I've started to build what I'm calling The Unofficial Segway Code to include on my website: The code is aimed at helping gliders follow an appropriate etiquette when gliding. I've made a start, and copied it below. And if you're happy, your suggestions may be included in the final document.

I want to build some instructions for dealing with kerbs, stairs and other real-world issues gliders come up against. When I get my next seg, I plan to top it up with videos I'll upload to Until then, I'll have to get creative with some words...


Table of Contents

The Risks
The Golden Rules

How to deal with:
  • Gliding indoors
  • Overtaking
  • Steep slopes
  • Grassy areas
  • Sandy areas
  • Securing your Segway
  • Kerbs
  • Escalators
  • Stairs
  • Revolving doors
  • Lifts
  • Public transport
  • Rude comments Risks

Every time you glide in the public on a Segway, you are taking a risk. There is a risk you may be involved in an accident, you may injure yourself or other people or property, and there is the risk that your Segway might be confiscated by the police and subsequently crushed ! It happens to mini-motos, it could happen to your Segway. You may be sued or even prosecuted.
As with all risks, there are two important factors: impact and probability. If the risk actually happens, e.g., a collision, how severe is it likely to be (impact)? How likely is it that a risk will occur is a measure of its liklihood or probability. High impact and high probability are largely determined by the actions of the glider.
The Golden Rules

Lets start with "The Golden Rules". These are the gliding fundamentals that will apply to every glider, wherever they glide and at all times. Follow these rules and you won't go far wrong.

In no particular order, The Golden Rules are:
  1. Know the official guidelines
  2. Always give way to pedestrians
  3. Match your pace and handling to your environment
  4. Glide in your safety zone
  5. Correctly equip and maintain your machine
  1. Know the official guidelines

    Watch the recommended safety video from Segway INC. Know the Official Highway Code (or law of the land outside of the UK) and where possible, purchase your machine from someone able to provide professional, supervised training.

    Sorry, no shortcuts here. When out on your Segway, one way or another you'll be mixing with people, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, etc.. Each group of pedestrians and road users will behave in different ways and you need to understand how these differ so you are prepared.

    Once you have seen the safety video and know The Highway Code, follow the rules for pedestrians when you are on the pavement and the rules for cyclists when in cycles lanes or on the road.

    Riding a Segway the wrong way down a one street is not going to go down well with motorists or the police!

  2. Always give way to pedestrians

    When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When on the pavement, behave like a pedestrian. However, you have an additional responsibility because you are operating your Segway, which responds to your every instruction:- directly, e.g., an intentional instruction to move, or indirectly, by reacting inappropriately or operating outside of your safety zone. Therefore you should always give pedestrians priority. Brake for them, let them pass, don't get too close, don't force them to leave the pavement.

    You should be particularly alert to pedestrians operating mobility scooters or whenever you see children, people with disabilities or the elderly.

    And although not absolutely essential, if you can manage all of this whilst being polite and civilised, this will go a surprisingly long way to help win acceptance for the Segway. Use the "Segway Smile" to inspire one in others. Smiling has lots of benefits! :-)

  3. Match your pace and handling to your environment

    Forget that your top speed on a Segway is 12.5MPH. Consider the reality of where you are and what the immediate conditions are. Is it crowded? Is it wet? Is it dark? Are you in a cycle lane? Are you moving amongst road traffic, etc.?

    On the pavement, it is essential you do not put the surrounding public at risk by riding erratically or too quickly. In busy areas and/or where pavements are narrow, uneven or wet, this may mean operating the Segway at speeds between 2-4MPH. You don't need a speedometer to determine the appropriate speed. Match the pace of the pedestrians around you. And if you can't see around a corner, slow down and if possible take it wide.

    If the pavements are wide and there are not many people, you may be able to accelerate to achieve a faster pace. However, there will be very few places, especially in busy towns or city centres, where riding at 12.5MPH on the pavement will be safe - so don't be tempted! If you need to hit top speed, look for a cycle lane or even a quiet roadway.

    Although there is no speed limit for Segways in the UK when on the pavement, when in cycle lanes or on the road, or even in some pedestrianised areas, there are speed limits, some of which can be exceeded by a Segway. Bare these in mind as they will apply to you.

  4. Glide in your safety zone

    Trying to seek out potential hazards is not unique to gliding on a Segway. However, if a pedestrian bumps into another, they will most likely excuse themselves and the person they bumped into will move on. If a person gliding on a Segway bumps into someone, even if it was not their fault, the immediate reaction will be "You shouldn't be using that here - it's your fault" (or similar words/sentiments). Avoid the problem completely by making the most of the 8 inch height advantage a Segway offers to keep a careful eye on everything going on around you. If a collision ever resulted in legal action, the law would almost certainly side with the pedestrian.

    This is where, when riding on a Segway, you don't want to behave like a pedestrian!

    It's impossible to actually expect the unexpected - the best you can hope for is to try and anticipate potential problems - and rather than consider every permutation for every person or vehicle, simply maintain an adequate safety margin around all potential hazards. Try not to find too much comfort in the knowledge that a Segway has an excellent braking system, it is far safer, instead, to rely on a suitable gap to the front and to the side.

    When considering your safety zone, consider hazards particular to using a Segway. For example:

    • don't get too close to a kerb edge. If one wheel drops off, you are likely to follow;
    • If a wheel comes into contact with a wall, lampost, or similar edge, the Segways' safety mechanism will not be able to prevent you from falling;
    • when passing parked cars (whether you're on the pavement or the road), always assume a door will open and position yourself correctly to avoid it;
    • avoid wet grids and grass, or areas covered in slippy leaves. If you have to pass in these areas, travel extremely cautiously - loose gravel surfaces can also reduce traction;
    • traveling over ice is almost certainly going cause your tyres to loose traction. Avoid it at all costs, remembering that when on a Segway, traction is your best friend;
    • try and stay in well lit areas so you can clearly see the area immediately in front and ahead of your Segway; and
    • because you are 8 inches taller, beware low hanging branches or other height related hazards that may normally not pose you any problems.
    Thinking about this list of potential hazards might make you consider taking a different route than you normally would on foot.

  5. Correctly equip and maintain your machine

    In the absence of any regulations for equipping a Segway for pavement or road use in the UK, it is recommended here that the Segway should be fitted with the following attachments:

    • Front lights (Segway INC offer a range of options - or consider the impressive lights from
      Essential for night time gliding. If your light is not powerful enough to illuminate the path ahead of you, stay in well lit areas. If it gets too dark to see immediately in front of you, consider stopping and walking until conditions improve.

    • Rear lights (Segway INC offer a tail light - or consider the impressive lights from
      At least one rear red light should be attached to either the machine or your belt/jacket, when gliding in the dark.

    • Reflective stickers (Segway INC offer a range of options)
      These are ideal for improving your visibility when dark.

    • Bell or other audible alert (All good bicycle stores will offer possible audible alerts)
      If you don't have a bell or something similar, use your voice to provide an audible alert when necessary. Cyclists will often ring a bell or announce "Passing on the left/right", as they pass a pedestrian from behind.
    Consider wearing a helmet. Every person you see using a Segway in a photograph on will be wearing a helmet. It is safer to wear a helmet than not to. The faster you glide and the more time you spend gliding off the pavement, the more you will increase your exposure to other road vehicles moving much more quickly than you. In these situations, wearing a helmet is essential. have some good advice on helmet usage.

    Maintaining your Segway is an easy but important part of being a safe glider. Refer to the maintenance pages of your Segway manual to ensure your machine is performing correctly. The main areas for concern are the wheels and control mechanism:
    • The tyre tread and pressure can affect the performance of the machine, so ensure they match the recommendations for your particular model. Although the tyres will last a long time, their tread will wear out eventually! Uneven pressure or a loose wheel can cause it to wobble or cause the machine to drift, left-to-right or vice versa.
    • Ensure the control shaft or LeanSteer column is correctly attached to the Segway. Although some Segways have been modified to operate hands-free, to remain in control of your Segway, your handlebars will need to remain attached!
    • Older Segways use a twist grip to steer. Ensure this continues to function properly, so that upon releasing the grip, it moves smoothly back to centre and doesn't automatically rotate the Segway to the left or to the right.
If you do follow The Golden Rules, hopefully a number of things will happen. First and foremost, you will be a much safer and happier glider. Safer because your gliding style will be appropriate to your environment and happier because the public will be given the respect they need, and this will help to pacify those looking to pounce on any inconsiderate behaviour they may see or perceive. Finally, you should have fewer problems from the police who have been advised not prosecute if Segways are handled in a civilised manner, without putting the public at risk.

Sal 08-22-2008 08:17 PM

Folks, this is a GREAT post... I have made this a sticky, so that this thread will be on top. If you wish to engage in tangential discussions, please start another thread and refer back to this one:

I don't want this thread to get cluttered and risk going into ratholes as it does provide much value, IMHO.

BTW, please don't QUOTE Gareth's post often unless adding directly in the quoted text. One or two liner posts may take up entire vertical screen real estate if you QUOTE.

I am sure Gareth will keep adding to the code.... with your help.

Thanks for this wonderful resource!

SegwayDan 08-22-2008 08:23 PM

Very excellent, Gareth! Well written and detailed, all with the consistent purpose of instilling civilized and considerate behavior of Segway gliders. Very well done for codifying this. It should be, at the very least, food for thought for every glider.

A few things I might add: Beware of gliding past store entrances for the possibility of colliding with unsuspecting pedestrians exiting the premises. Reduce speed and try to glide far enough away to reduce the chances of collisions.

Give notice when overtaking or coming upon pedestrians standing in your path or going slower than you. Use a bell, horn, or call out politely and audibly with the intention not to startle. However, if those pedestrians are behind or amongst other slow-moving or stopped pedestrians, find another route around them or blend in at their pace.

Be especially careful of pedestrians with pets or with small children. Slow down and be prepared to stop instantly.

eJM 08-22-2008 10:21 PM


Do you mean "Curbs" or is that something different or spelled right for the country you're in?


Bob.Kerns 08-22-2008 11:47 PM

A few thoughts on a great post:

It would help it a bit if it could be made (with assistance) a bit more international. The actual content isn't particularly UK-specific, but it sort of sets up the expectation that it is. You'd like to make international readers comfortable that "It applies to me." One strategy might be to make the text generic and conservative, with a link to a table at the end with country-specific details? You (we -- you'll need international help, of course) will probably need to experiment to find what works best.

It's not just doors of stores -- any blind corner needs a great deal of caution. For example, in downtown areas with sidewalks right up against the buildings, slow WAY down at the corner, try not to be right up against the building, and cautiously stick your head out. The further you are away from the blind corner when you go around it, the more chance people have to see you (and you to see people).

At the local hospital, I was coming out of the laboratory where I was having blood drawn, and I was following this rule, and I *still* had someone walk around the corner and almost run into me. The only harm done would have been to the Segway's reputation, but still, anything we can do to minimize the "startle factor" is good. In fact, that's a good point to emphasize -- when people suddenly see someone towering over them, they tend to have a negative reaction even if no harm is being done them and even if the entire interaction is because they were being inattentive -- like the guy I saw yesterday reading a Kindle with an iPod plugged into his ears, while walking the crowded streets of the San Francisco financial district at 8:55 AM.

CovRob 08-23-2008 04:41 AM


Originally Posted by eJM (Post 178581)
Do you mean "Curbs" or is that something different or spelled right for the country you're in?


You're correct - Correct spelling for this side of the Pond.

SegwayJay 08-23-2008 11:15 AM

Fantastic!...Thanks for the effort....this is great!


wwhopper 08-23-2008 11:34 AM

One of the fun things about this community is....
The fact that we all love Segways, but come from such different cultures where we find out that different spellings for words that sound similar mean the same things. Kerbs and curbs.

Now "mind the gap" and glide!

Americans just love that saying "mind the gap"

Let's work on this guide to be universal and get input from as many different users in different countries as possible.

Oh and should there not be a line in there that will say, he who has a Segway PT then gives it up for a motor scooter, then comes back to the Segway PT, should be reminded about that every once in a while?

CovRob 08-24-2008 02:04 AM


Originally Posted by wwhopper (Post 178634)
Oh and should there not be a line in there that will say, he who has a Segway PT then gives it up for a motor scooter, then comes back to the Segway PT, should be reminded about that every once in a while?

I've sooooo wanted to mention that but was figuing out how to phrase it. :D

gbrandwood 08-25-2008 08:00 AM

Ha ha guys! I don't think I'll ever live it down. My new biker chums find it hilarious too. They think I can't handle anything that goes faster than 12.5mph!

I've updated the guide on my site and will see about updating the top thread here. I appreciate the positive comments and suggestions, and I've started working them in. I've started the kerb/curb/mind the gap section!

However, to make it international is going to require some more thought and structure. At the moment I'm just updating whenever I feel like, changing it all the time. Something more controlled might necessitate a wiki, but I was hoping to have a printable guide. More thought needed.

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