Emma Macdonald June 11, 2012
More than a year after investing $200,000 in providing tourists with a two-wheeled lakeside thrill, Canberra Segway hire company owners Di and Charlie Orr have been given a three-year legal ''all-clear'' by the ACT government following the emotional trauma of a ban, then temporary exemption, then formal review of Segway use around the lake.
As yesterday's blue skies and sunshine drew a steady stream of Segway enthusiasts to Seg Glide Ride's Commonwealth Place kiosk, Mrs Orr said she was hugely relieved that ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell would today announce that the electric self-balancing scooters are legal around the lake.
They will, however, continue to be banned for personal or commercial use on public roadways or as a general mode of transport.
Mr Corbell said: ''Segways have become a notable and unique piece of the fabric around Lake Burley Griffin and have proved popular with locals and tourists alike, and a recent Segway review has not found any major safety issues with their continued use in this type of environment, under direct supervision.''
It is a massive relief for Mrs Orr and her family, who went into business last year after trips around the United States and Europe convinced them there was a booming market in scenic and slightly adventurous travel around landmarks.
The couple signed a three-year lease with the National Capital Authority to run the hire business from Commonwealth Place last May - quickly establishing itself as one of Canberra's most popular tourist offerings.
But despite Segways being popular people-movers from the Eiffel Tower to Miami Beach, the Canberra company was ordered last August to suspend their use because Segways were regarded as an unregistered and uninsured vehicle in the ACT and anyone riding one on public land could be fined a total of $2200.
Mr Corbell then issued a temporary exemption while the ACT government undertook a formal review of Segways - the results of which will be issued today.
Mr Corbell said: ''The government has had strong regard for the safety of Segway users in different situations in the ACT, particularly the major associated risks to mixing the use of Segways, cars and other vehicles like bikes on public roads.
''The report did identify some minor risks associated with the continued use of Segways around the lake, however, I am confident that the appropriate conditions will mitigate this risk.
''The government wants to ensure that visitors to the national capital and even those who live here are able to enjoy the great aspects of our city, like Lake Burley Griffin, from a unique perspective, however, safety of riders must be a high priority.''
Mr Corbell said the main safety risks associated with Segway use were at pedestrian crossings and other intersections with roads which would make private Segway use problematic from a road safety perspective.
''The government requires more evidence about the safety of these vehicles before private use is permitted in road-related areas … the federal government is currently undertaking work on alternate vehicles and power-assisted pedal cycles and it would be appropriate for decisions about the personal use of Segways to be taken after that national work has concluded.'' When the current temporary exemption for Segways around Lake Burley Griffin expires on June 30, a new exemption will take effect from July 1, which will run for three years before being reviewed.
Mrs Orr said she had been increasingly nervous about the future of the business as the exemption cut-off date drew nearer.
''We are very, very happy … it's a fantastic result,'' she said.