What's Wrong With Walking?

from the the-Segway-will-make-us-fat dept

I thought about this, and a few friends have mentioned it as well. Won’t the amazing new Segway just make us all fatter? Walking is an important bit of excercise that people really should do more of on a daily basis. Yet, with a Segway we’re being encouraged to do less walking. Maybe it’s all a plot of Dean Kamen’s to make us all fatter and more susceptible to heart disease so he can sell more of his heart stents.

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Comments on “What's Wrong With Walking?”

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Jan says:

SegWay is for the disabled

I actually read about Dean Kamen and the stand-up scooter over a year ago (found him on MIT’s Technology Review or someplace similar) and at that time it was presented as a tool for people disabled from the waist down. And if you think about it, for them it must be a real godsend, compared to a bulky wheelchair that requires at least one hand to operate.

Phillip says:

Re: Re: Segweigh

I think anyone that has had to suffer being crammed in every morning packed next to other sweaty Tube commuters will seriously consider the Segway. An hours walk either way is inconvenient, 20mins Segway ride isn’t. The pavements (sidewalks) are pretty clear around commuter time in the morning, though it will be slower returning as the pavements clog up mid-afternoon. On the other hand getting there is more time critical than vice-versa.

Personally I don’t think it will make us any lazier, those of us that wouldn’t walk given half the chance already use the car. I know I drive down the local shops for stuff and that is only 15 mins walk. At least on the Segway I would get fresh air (but no car stereo).


strider says:

news bulletin: fat Americans are still fat

Someone actually does something original, the lazy critics always go for the easy layup.

Kamen’s invention won’t cure self neglect. Thanks for pointing that out. Let’s toss it on the junk heap before it even gets a chance.

By the time a large city is filled with underpasses and overpasses and boulevards and parkades and parking lots it becomes pretty hard to walk anywhere. The automobile itself has created a cityscale where walking is not practical.

The first misconception to clear up is that people don’t walk just to get from point A to point B. That’s already the view from the driver’s side window.

People walk to experience life. That means streets that built on a human scale, with many small diversions and activities, lots of life going on, trees and ice cream, and small shops to escape the elements.

In Montreal I used to walk 25 minutes to work even when it was 20 below. This was possible because there were five different independent book shops along my favorite route. Several of them have died since, strangled by the megastores filled with customers who most certainly aren’t walking home.

Nobody walks to enjoy the traffic and long concrete walls covered in graffitti between Walmart and Home Hardware.

The idea that Segway is going to displace pedestrians is a pretty lame objection. The automobile has already done just about everything possible to make pedestrianism unpleasant.

I presently live in a small city littered with golf courses. The parks are nice, but the golf courses funnel all the vehical traffic into a small handful of major corridors. Off these corridors, the vast majority of side streets are labelled “No Exit”.
It takes a lot of work to find pedestrian routes that avoid the busy corridors. About 30% of the streets labelled “No Exit” can actually be traversed on foot by unmarked paths connected to another street behind a park or across a gully. There are no signs erected to aid pedestrians in finding these paths. Pedestrians have no clout.

Segway will fail in America. Most Americans have never experienced life in a city life by foot is possible. In LA, if you have a McDonalds on one side of the street and Burger King on the other, it’s a car trip to get between them.

Fortunately, there is more than America.

By 2020 the Chinese economy will be roughly the same size as the American economy. Large countries such as Brazil and Mexico will be another rung up the economic ladder. Sao Paulo, Beijing, Mexico city, these are places where you can’t fit so many cars that no one walks, which are not already dominated by Walmart megaboxes, where the streets have always been a big part of daily life.

The only salvation for Segway in America is demographics. More than half the American population will soon be in their “golden” years. I suspect there’s a cohort in there not willing to go directly from a minivan to a motorized golf cart.

This city already has a majority of its population at a retirement age. Stingy and affluent at the same time. They’ll drive an extra mile to save $1 on a halogen light bulb, then spend $50 on an organic laxitive. The largest building on my way to the local fitness center is the Arthritis Institute.

I think a bigger problem for Segway is that the two feet are bound rigidly together. It just doesn’t scream “freedom” in its current configuration.

I’m waiting for the version that looks like a pogo stick crossed with a unicycle. One medium sized wheel between your legs with enough suspension to jump curbs, and stirrups that rotate the ankles in a way that forces the rider to keep their weight on the high side of a pirouette. I bet it wouldn’t be much harder to learn, once perfected, than riding a bicycle.

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