Using the Segway as Daily Transportation – Alex Clemens of Barbary Coast Consulting Makes It Work – A Brief Test Drive

Bumped into famous Segway-riding Alex Clemens the other day. He’s, among other things, the “family spokesperson” for the Sullenbergers.

(Turns out that the second book from famous pilot Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III won’t be about poetry, contrary to rumours.)

Anyway, as you’ll soon see, he is the 415’s #1 Segway Proclaimer.

Here he is on the mean Streets of San Francisco. He’s all over town on this thing. He’s become an icon:

Click to expand. (Fred Flintstone wheels not included.)

Anyway, he’s making it work for him as a daily driver, as a substitute for a car or bike.

Read all about it, after the jump


Guest Post: Alex Clemens

Much like many other observers of San Francisco’s urban fabric, I am an avid reader of the San Francisco Citizen. I enjoy the wry, pointed – but never mean-spirited – look at one man’s take on San Francisco’s curiosities, nuisances and personalities – the editor does a great job chronicling the never-ending dance of our City’s daily life.

In addition to being a quick and accurate photographer, the author is a terrific writer, using humor to gently skewer or illustrate aspects of our culture that make up the patina of our daily life.  He’s quite prolific, as well. Most days, there are several posts, almost all worth reading.  I’m a fan.

A couple months back, I got an e-mail from a friend. “I think that’s you in the San Francisco Citizen,” he wrote. I clicked over. Sure enough, there was a midrange shot of me, gliding down Market Street on my preferred conveyance, along with some clever writing about how there seemed to be a 100% increase on the number of Market Street Segway commuters.  I quickly scanned some of the older posts on the Citizen, and sure enough, there were a few shots of a nattily dressed, distinguished, ponytailed older gentleman riding to work on a rather familiar vehicle.  Two of us – wow!

I began an email correspondence with the editor of the Citizen.  One thing led to another, and I learned he had never ridden on one of these nefarious contraptions that he occasionally wrote about. I offered mine up for a test drive.  He accepted.

We met earlier today, both of us dusted by the light rain falling in San Francisco’s South of Market. I walked him through the steps of learning how to write a Segway, which he took to quite naturally.  The younger you are, the better you’re at it, in general – youthful folks more immediately grasp the basics of Segway operations, while older folks have a tougher time dispelling their disbelief that this thing will stay upright.  Your Citizen editor is somewhere in between.

But he did a fine job, quickly gaining confidence, rolling around ever-faster in a secluded SOMA alleyway, keeping his knees slightly bent and body loose, avoiding potholes and obstacles, all as directed. “I can see how this would be a lot of fun on which to commute,” he said.  “I think I’ve got about 50% of what I need to know,” he said, after 5 minutes of riding.  Nah – more like 85%.

Segways certainly aren’t for everyone. I’ve got a bad back.  And since I enjoy treading lightly on the environment during my commute, I rarely take a car – just a couple times in the past four or five years, I think.  Riding a bike is great, but it frequently leads to distinct unhappiness being loudly expressed by my lower back. So I’ve switched to this anti-cool device.  I think that it allows me to take the environment very seriously while at the same time taking myself not seriously at all.  (And I’m pretty sure the first guys seen on a bicycle or in a car or on a horse got teased, as well.)

And the answers to the questions everyone asks (you can probably guess the questions):

ü  12.5 MPH.

ü  20 miles.

ü  Plugs right into the wall, and yes, overnight.

ü  Four small, disciplined, hamsters.  (OK, kidding.  A bunch of gyros and computers and some great engineering.)

ü  Very easy, after a mild learning curve.

ü  $5K, if it’s new.

ü  Locks to a parking meter, so I always park in front.

ü  Streets only.  Bike lanes whenever possible.

ü  No, I don’t know how expensive gas is these days.

ü  It wasn’t the inventor – he’s still alive.  It was the guy who bought the company.

ü  Just about as safe as a bicyclist – probably a tiny bit safer, because of the big wheels and the limited top speed.

And now – back to your regularly scheduled programming.  And if you see the Citizen editor roaming around, say hi – he’s a swell fellow.

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6 Responses to “Using the Segway as Daily Transportation – Alex Clemens of Barbary Coast Consulting Makes It Work – A Brief Test Drive”

  1. Harry says:

    Alex Clemens should identify himself properly. He is the corrupt lobbyist who pimps for the Fisher Family’s Fields Foundation (astroturfing and gopher murder) and Recology (which is why we pay a fortune to a corrupt LA corporation).

    He is also the snide jerk who was on KQED Forum earlier this year glossing over our alcoholic cocaine-addicted mayor’s career:

    Alex was likely also responsible for getting the green light for the horrible new Segway tours which have been inflicted on us in Golden Gate Park.

    Wow! What a jerk!

  2. Harry,
    I’d say you should identify yourself as the hateful impotent troll who lashes out at people you deem “corrupt” (read: everyone) no matter how irrelevant to the subject at hand or how paranoid and nuts you make yourself look in the process – but you already have.

  3. Oh, and also: SF Citizen (Jim) is wonderful and I wish I could have seen y’all trying out the Segway!

  4. Harry says:

    Yes, Melissa, 25% of San Franciscans going hungry is not of any consequence to you.

    You are too concerned with nannies who don’t have parking spaces. And, of course, you don’t forget to extollthe virtues of Arizona racism.

    Everything I said is fact. Your opinion is that we should be ruled by the upper 1%, so lobbyists (such as yourself: Applebees?) are vital to society.

    After all, without the likes of Sam Lauter, Alex Clemens and so on we might have more fairness and equity….and brown faces…. Good Lord! Praise Jesus and Pass the Ammunition!

    Seriously, how do you justify glossing over these outrageous fees. We absolutely need to badge each and every lobbyist entering City Hall.

    Personally, I don’t hate anyone. I hate what they do, whether that is remote controlling predator drones dropping bombs on women and children in Iraq or Gavin Newsom persecuting the homeless and closing down the HANC Recycling Center (leaving ten employees with benefits without a job).

    What you hate is ethics and decency because these stand in the way of unbridled greed!

    Can you please explain what is “paranoid” or “nuts” about what I wrote. I write my Recology check to LA, and it is astronomical. I don’t want my soccer fields astroturfed.

    And so on.

    Are people who want honest government that serves the people “insane”?

    Well that comment says a lot about you!

    An what the hell does “impotent” mean? That I was not born into the Getty family?

    I’m sorry, but you are the one who is launching the mindless attacks. I am sick and tired of Babbits painting themselves with social responsibility, while selling out our City to the highest bidder!

    We just have different standards of ethics. Yours is that of Mubarak. Mine of Jesus Christ (whom today’s “Christians” would string up in an instant!)

  5. Alex Clemens says:

    I am unmasked! Unmasked, I say, by the great Harry Pariser! Oh no! Time for me to come clean. OK – where to start? There’s so much to confess…

    You’re right, Harry. I stand correctly accused of dropping predator bombs on women and children (I use my iPhone to cleverly avoid hitting men), writing the Arizona racism laws – and using correct spelling throughout, unbridling greed wherever I find it unfairly bridled, moving San Francisco-based Recology to Los Angeles without anyone finding out, secretly replacing bicycles with the hundreds of thousands of Segways now menacing San Francisco pedestrians, helping build playfields, propping up genocide, and installing Burger Kings in every nook and cranny I can find. Yep, that’s me. (Not gopher murder, however. A man’s got to draw the line somewhere. I’m offended you plugged that in!)

    And for the gajillionth time, I am indeed a registered lobbyist. I make no secret of that, despite Harry Pariser’s certainty that I’m somehow keeping that fact under wraps. Anyone who wants to can find WAY too much information illustrating this fact down at City Hall, or at the Ethics Commission website, or the Internets or … or just about anywhere.

    Also, much like the estimable writer Melissa Griffin, I have a sense of humor. After being yelled at by you, I’ve tried to converse with you a couple times (as have other reasonable people) and it’s clear that you didn’t have said sense of humor installed with your original equipment – the spot for that seems to have been replaced with an extra bile duct set on High Paranoia. That can’t be fun, and must lead to headaches. Damn shame about that…

    Oh and also? If you’re gonna throw stones, be brave enough to throw them with your full name attached. That’s how grownups converse, usually. ESPECIALLY when they’re comparing themselves to Jesus Christ. (Dude. You really did that. Srsly.)

    Good luck with all the travel books!

  6. Harry says:

    Well, it must be great to be a smug, self-assured individual who can pass himself off as a “journalist.”

    Lack of a sense of humor has never been my problem. In fact, I was told by one newspaper editor I sent the link to that:

    “Hilarious back-and-forth with Melissa. I think that you got under her pale skin. The line about being impotent and being born into the Getty family was funny as hell.

    Keep writing. Melissa wants to discredit you as a nut…. but I think that she will leave you alone, because your description of her was a little too close for her comfort.”

    And, from a neighbor of mine: ” what smug piece… about a friggin segway!”

    Can’t you just turn yourself into a snide cockroach and hop back into a celluloid reel of “Thank You For Smoking” (or a paperback copy, or a hardback) and leave the rest of us, who want a fair democratic process, which you subvert, alone?

    What is the valid defense of lobbyists? Exactly what “paranoia” are you talking about?

    And have you considered taking introspection seminars? It is a process in which you are sorely lacking!