Leading article: Wheels of misfortune

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The Independent Online

A Segway is defined as "a two-wheeled self-balancing electric vehicle". But that gives no hint of the intrinsically comic character of the preposterous device which looks like a cross between a child's scooter and one of those devices which railroad engineers used in cowboy films of yore.

So should it be ridden on the road or the pavement? A judge yesterday fined a former miner from Barnsley for riding a Segway on the pavement because, the legal eagle decreed, he was "inexorably driven to the conclusion" that the device is a motor vehicle. That may turn out to be the only thing to which a Segway-owner is inexorably driven – for the Department for Transport insists that, lacking lights and indicators, it isn't safe for use on UK roads either.

That just leaves private land as the only place for the £5,000 device, about 70,000 of which have now been sold worldwide. The trouble is that it was on private land that the machine's inventor, Jimi Heselden, died riding his Segway along a riverside path on his estate, near Leeds, when he lost control and went over a cliff.

Riders of the 12mph device might therefore conclude they are better off on the pavement and risking the fine. Either that or they could join a circus.

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