If It Moves, Tax It
Here’s a proposed ordinance that could compete with Dave’s nomination for Stupidest Idea of 2008. The city of St. Louis is considering whether to require $300 permits to use Segways in Forest Park. (I’m sure all my readers are cool enough to know that Segways are electric-powered scooters that coast around at about 10 mph.) It would also limit Segway tours in Forest Park to organizations who already have a physical presence in the park; those organizations would be the Science Center, the Science Center, and the Science Center.
The vice president of the Science Center claims this isn’t about creating a monopoly for them:
"If it was a sweetheart deal for the Science Center, it would say ‘Science Center,’ wouldn’t it?" Wharton asked.
Yet Krewson, sponsor of the measure, acknowledged she did have the Science Center in mind when she wrote it.
Well, what do you know sometimes proposals are not named in a completely transparent way, as we should all know from the time the midwife debate suddenly turned into a dispute about "tocology."
This is not to say that city governments shouldn’t regulate Segways at all. I don’t think Segways are popular enough to warrant a crackdown yet, but if busy urban sidewalks were crowded with the scooters, that could pose a threat (or at least, an annoyance) to the pedestrians who would no longer be free to walk. But in Forest Park, there’s lots of open space and nobody is complaining about Segways. Furthermore, a license fee would be a burden to disabled Segway users, who can’t enjoy the park with traditional, unlicensed forms of transportation like bikes and roller skates.
But this proposal isn’t about embracing innovations to help the disabled. Governments just don’t like new things:
"Segways are something new in city parks," parks director Gary Bess says. "We want to go slow."