Slow Down There, Turbo
In one of the more bizarre (and ridiculous) examples of local government unnecessarily exerting its will over citizens, a St. Louis alderman has introduced a proposal requiring riders of Segways, accurately described by a Post-Dispatch article as "slow-moving electric chariots," to purchase a $300 permit in order to ride the scooters throughout Forest Park. The utter lunacy of this idea is described in the following quote (emphasis added):
"Segways are something new in city parks," parks director Gary Bess says. "We want to go slow."
Actually, it’s more like they want you to go slow, as the fears of Alderman Lyda Krewson (who introduced the bill) so accurately describe:
"I happen to think they are really cool devices," said Krewson, whose
ward includes the park. "But if you were running along on the path, you
don’t want a bunch of them coming up behind you."
As someone training to run a very long way in April for no real reason, I think I can safely attest that the biggest danger on the paths of Forest Park isn’t a scooter that tops out at a whopping 12 mph. More importantly, why is the city trying to regulate the Pokey Little Scooter for safety concerns when I get buzzed at 25 mph by a guy on a Specialized every time I run past the Grand Basin?
The use of parks, sidewalks and roadways in the city of St. Louis should be encouraged as much as possible, if not for the sake of fitness, than at least for the overall boost that outdoor activity brings to societal welfare. Requiring a permit to ride a Segway in the park is the same as requiring a permit to ride a bicycle, roller blade, or jog: it’s an unnecessary step that will reduce usage and prevent citizens (particularly those with disabilities) from fully enjoying one of our state’s greatest treasures.
It’s ironic that a city with such a tradition of offering a park space "free and open to all" is trying to restrict who can do what on its paths.