(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
THE CITIZEN GOES FOR A TEST DRIVE
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.