Business Community Photos & Videos Transportation

Segways Still on Sidewalks Despite New Ban

If you are confused about whether the Segway tour vehicles legally belong in the street or on the sidewalk, you are not alone. About a month ago, the Mayor signed off on new regulations unanimously passed by the City Council banning Segway tours from sidewalks and parks. The rules would relegate Segway tours to the streets, similar to bicycles. Routes would also have to be approved by Boston Transportation Department among other new requirements. (View the regulatory document.)

As any North End / Waterfront resident knows, Boston Gliders continues to operate Segway tours on the sidewalks and through the parks despite the new regulations. Now in the peak season, the tours run several times an hour along many streets in the neighborhood. With the move of its tour center to the corner of Hanover and Commercial Streets (the former gas station), a Segway tour leaves from Commercial Street every 15 minutes or so.

Boston Gliders, the Segway tour company, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on June 17, 2011. The court denied the company’s motion for a temporary restraining order against the new regulations.

In its complaint, Boston Gliders claims there has never been an accident on their tours. This statement is contrary to reports of such incidents, such as this accident in Christopher Columbus Park. 

City Hall says the lawsuit will not delay implementation of the new regulations and considers the new rules to be fully in effect. At the July 11, 2011 meeting of the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC), Stephen Passacantilli from Councilor LaMattina’s office confirmed this position.

At last week’s Public Safety meeting, BPD’s Captain O’Rourke said there is an “informal grace period” and this may be the reason why there has not been any change or enforcement. The grace period would theoretically allow the Transportation Department to meet with the tour companies and determine the details on how to enact the new regulations.

32 Replies to “Segways Still on Sidewalks Despite New Ban

  1. This is the EXACT spot where a tour nearly ran my kids over (and me with my stroller). I said to the leader as he passed, "you are not supposed to be on the sidewalk" and he gave me a dirty look and kept going. Then, 8 segways passed us as at least 3 nervous & uneasy "drivers" nearly clipped us, trying to maneuver those trees on the sidewalk (right outside the front door of the Wharf) while we were going the opposite direction. Two people can barely walk in that area, let alone a person and a segway? It is ridiculous…

  2. I jog around the Commercial St. loop just about every week-day morning and have always seen the tours on the sidewalk and had to make room for them to my endless annoyance.
    Interestingly, today was the first day that I saw them on the street. Maybe they are finally getting the message?

  3. Dear Readers,

    In an effort to help clear the air. Boston Gliders has not been notified or provided any official information that a bill has been passed or signed. Our legal battle with the city is still on going and in place to ensure all parties remain safe. The Federal Court has asked us to provide all parties with service before they will hear the motion for an injunction, also at the time of filing there was nothing to injunct since the law had not been signed.

    I have to say I'm more upset that people think it is ok to violate the rights of people, harass people and cause verbal and physical confrontations with segway users. The last few weeks I have seen the real issue at hand. It makes me sad to believe that people do not respect others or the federal law.

    This issue was said to be about Public Safety it has now seemed to turn into a not in my back yard and this is my sidewalk type of a deal. To date with over 40,000 tours never has a person been hit by someone on a segway pt. Can anyone say that about a bike, skateboard, jogger, or any other type of activity.

    No amount of regulation will stop people from falling off a segway pt I testified to that at a public hearing check the log on the public website at city hall. If that is the case why is there not a class that needs to be taken by bike riders? or someone who purchases a skateboard. These are questions I’m concerned that educated people are not asking.

    The street is no place for a segway tour to be! Why is the city not being fair with regulation? Why only regulate Segway Tours why not bike tours, walking tours, this is a clear level of discrimination that residents are promoting.

    If you see a promblem you can always call us. Emotional removed feedback is best.

    Allan Danley

    We have contacted several people in the City Hall to date still with no call returned.

  4. Mr Danley: Maybe if your tour leaders were a little bit more polite and didn't force pedestrians off the sidewalk and have to lean up against buildings to avoid being hit, people might have a different attitude. I have been forced on several occasions to junp into a doorway or up against a building on Hanover St to avoid being hit by a Segway Tour. No excuse me, just a coming through from the leader. North End Sidewalks are too narrow to accommodate all the tourists who think they have a right to walk four across, elderly with walkers, mothers with strollers, and residents who are just trying to go about their lives in their neighborhood. No offense but you have somewhat of a bad attitude towards the residents of the North End and the people at City Hall. Maybe if you got an attitude adjustment it would help your case. Publically saying you intend to break the law and keep on riding the sidewalks and in the parks is a real turn off. You are not a good business neighbor.

  5. So your excuse is that you didn't know it was illegal? You filed a challenge to the law, so therefore you have publicly declared your knowledge of that ordinance. You have also had more than ample time to serve all parties, you have chosen not to do so. The city doesn't have to send you an engraved invitation. Nobody from the city has stopped by my house to tell me that I can't drink and drive, but guess what — it's still illegal! If anyone had any question about you being aware of the law, you cleared it up in the media and in court.

    Also, typically when people use the phrase "not in my backyard" or "NIMBY" which I've seen you use a few times, they are talking about toxic waste dumps, prisons housing Al qaeda terrorists, sewage treatment plants and other foul or scary things. Interesting that you repeatedly use this phrase when discussing your business.

  6. Dear Readers,

    Well to only answer the new items posted, just like any other person would not allow their rights to violated or taken away. I would like to see someone else show up and allow the City to violate the federal law and remove your rights. Of course while you stand by and say yes sir and thanks. It's not about breaking the law its about not allowing people to take your rights away.

    Of course you would not allow that to happen, the problem here is you are all for taking away someone else's rights, but not your own. There are many stages to a law being passed and put in place. We are of course protecting our rights the correct way through our federal court proceedings. Not just challenge the law ensure our rights are protected from people who wish to tear them away with no basis. We know you had to move step aside or jump out of the way. What I like is you leave out some key points I also live her in the neighborhood I also have 3 children, I also have to jump out of the way for the joggers, bikers, and others.

    Did the DMV issue you a license, they would have been the folks to help you with your drinking and driving issue.. Most people would know heavy machinery and drinking do not mix. Also that is decided at the state and federal level not at the city of boston politicians who for 2 years could not collect or answer (1) correct question about the segway after (2) count them (2) long hard years of data collection and meetings. It was almost comical to hear them all congratulate each other about their hard work.

    I know the horror of the segway, all those tourists spending thousands of dollars a day, end it all now. The only issue is here is the city has passed a law that violates trade restriction, and civil rights. If the rules applied to all tour companies then they might have a chance. Tell the bike tour companies where they can operate or go, what hours, who their guides can be. How about the walking tour guides, trolley, duck boats. What hours, when, where, how, and why. This is a clear level of discrimination and it will be shown for what it is.

    Once again,
    My contact info:

    Allan Danley

  7. I think that the issue is quite simple: The law steps in when there is a clash of interests and an issue needs to be forced in favor of one of those interests (the majority).
    Although I happen to disagree with it, skateboarders are banned from many public spaces. The constituency majority spoke and laws were passed. The pedestrian constituency (majority) does not seem to like Segways on the sidewalks, and a law is passed.
    If bicycle tour operators were operating their tours on the sidewalk, I'm quite certain that the law would step in and rule in favor of the majority (pedestrians).
    Isn't that basically what our system is all about?
    I don't think anyone is deliberately trying to restrict Segway tour operators from running a successful business. It just seems to be the opinion of the majority that they do not belong on the sidewalks. As it happens, I see the bike tours all the time and they are on the street, where the majority would probably agree that they belong.
    Just my $0.02…..

  8. Mr Danley's self serving posts are ludicrous. Boston is not violating his civil rights by passing a law prohibiting segways on sidewalks. And they specifically say disabled people whose disablilty can be verified will be allowed on sidewalks. A bicycle or skateboard does not in anyway compare to an inexperienced tourist travelling on a narrow sidewalk on a motorized vehicle, Nobody is trying to force him out of business. Unfortunatly, Danley thinks he is above the law and nobody should dare try to restrict the use of segways.

  9. Mark B

    Thank you for your input and I understand 100% along with your point it is very clear.

    What has happened unlike any other device the Segway is classified as a pedestrian device at the federal level per the consumer division.

    This is straight from the American National Standard. personal conveyance: A personal conveyance is a device, other than a transport device, used by a pedes- trian (See 2.2.36) for personal mobility assistance or recre- ation. These devices can be motorized or human powered, but not propelled by pedaling.
    1.) Rideable toys — Roller skates, in-line skates — Skateboard — Skates
    American National Standard
    — Baby Carriage — Scooter — Toy Wagon
    2.) Motorized rideable toys — Motorized skateboard — Motorized toy car
    3.) Devices for personal mobility assistance — Segway-style device — Motorized and non-motorized wheelchair — Handicapped scooter

    Our products are designed, developed and manufactured to a level of safety not found in most consumer products. In fact several independent safety studies, including one by the United States Department of Transportation, have found the Segway PT to be incredibly safe, stable, maneuverable and appropriate for pedestrian sidewalk and bicycle lane/trail travel. A summary on these studies along with links to the actual reports can be found at

    Segway PT is a consumer product. In fact, the product is, by federal ruling, a consumer product under the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C.). This said, we know that our products are readily and safely used by persons for mobility purposes as it provides a new sense of freedom which is not provided by typical mobility device

    In closing if the elected officials are violating the law who is responsible? We only want what the law affords us.

    Thanks again we are always open to listening to good points.

  10. Here we go folks, Joyce S has hit it straight on the head.

    The city requires a verification because they and they alone can control who, how, and why. This by it self violates title 2 and 3 of the civil law.Are they requiring any user of any other EMPAD device? NO, this equals discrimination! welcome to the 70's. No is stoping and asking if anyone else needs a device they just go on and assume they need it.

    Its like having a bad interaction with someone on a bike you don't call up huffy and complain.

    Yes we are trying to stay where the federal law has outlined a segway pt should be.

    If the people looking to do the restriction had one fact correct or even bothered to spend 5 minutes here then you could at least say they tried to be fair, honest, and productive. Instead not one person even looked at a report, impact study or consulted anyone that was qualified to provide accurate information.

    Thanks to Joyce we know it really is just focused on (1) item– Allan Danley.

  11. Mr Danley…Please do not make it sound like I agree with you. Put your glasses on and actually read what I said. I totally disagree with your previous posts was pointing out the flaws in your argument. I personally would like to see segways banned entirely in Boston. Are you a lawyer since you twist everything to suit your point of view. You certainly arrogant and not a very nice person in your dealings with the residents of the North End. How about you stand on Commercial St or Hanover St and a bunch of residents ride your segways on the sidewalk and we force you and your employees into the street or up against a building so we can get where we need to go without worrying about getting run over. Please don't compare bikes and skateboards to Segways, It is ridiculous. If you don't like how residents of the North End and the elected officials who represent this neighborhood feel about Segways on sidewalks and the new laws.that have been passed…leave Boston and find a more segway friendly city to run your business

  12. Mr Danley,

    The document that you randomly cut and pasted from in your response to Mark B has nothing to do with the law or the federal government. I’m not sure why, but you pasted a section from the American National Standard Manual on Classification of Motor Vehicle Traffic Accidents published by the National Safety Council.

    The National Safety Council (NSC) is a nonprofit, nongovernmental public service membership organization that promotes health and safety, focusing on workplace safety, preventing auto accidents, teen driving, cell phones/texting while driving, fireworks safety, etc. The document states that “The purpose of this American National Standard is to provide a common language for reporters, classifiers, analysts, and users of traffic accident data.”

    If accident statistics are what you were looking for, there is plenty of actual accident data on Segways that doesn’t come from the Segway Corporate website. A study published in the September Annals of Internal Medicine said Segway-related injuries "are significant and seem to be increasing."

  13. Joyce S when do we meet at the corner? The problem again is people like you! That is why I will stay and gladly start passing a petition on Hanover street this week. Along with start having tourist you know those people who come every day and enjoy our service. They keep the shops and restaurants full. Ask them to sign letters to the city and state officials.

    Never mind it should be interesting when your elected officials actually take service of the federal law suit since till now they continue to dodge service. Let the new cost start racking up.

    Fact Check you mean the study that says the significant increase is from (3) to (6).

  14. You are the problem Mr. Danley. Get over yourself.
    By people like me do you mean someone who has lived here for 20 yrs and is sick of having to get out of the way of Segway tour groups on the narrow streets of the North End? If so, then you are right I am YOUR problem. If you weren't such a jerk, people might have been willing to listen to you. Keep insulting North End residents and see who gets more signatures on a petition. Oh and just so you know….signatures from people who do not live in the North End/Waterfront don't count.

    Too bad Matt won't let me say what I really think

  15. Joyce thinking that would be a new take on reality!

    Try it some time

    Matt conti the sensor ??? Imagin

  16. Dear Resident :
    Matt will not allow me or anyone else to use certain words or phrases that are improper. He has never censored me on this blog he just tells me no when I email him and ask if I can please please just this one time say "curse words" in a post. Your sarcasm was duly noted as was not using your real name.

  17. I don't think it is terribly productive to have so much back and forth name calling. Mr. Danley has been very active commenting on this thread. I hear a lot of complaining and insults toward local residents. What I don't hear is an explanation that gets at the point of the article. City Council passed an ordinance on June 15 that was signed by Mayor Menino on June 24. The ordinance stated it was to go into effect immediately. The ordinance prohibits any Segways on public property except those necessary for persons with disabilities and licensed tour groups. Use of Segways for tour groups is specifically limited to public streets.

    Why then am I still dodging Segway tours on the sidewalk? Mr. Danley has every right to file a lawsuit and see where it falls. In the meantime, if the judge wouldn't give him a restraining order, he has to follow the law until a court strikes it down. What am I missing? Mr. Danley, are you informing all the tourists who rent Segways with you that it is illegal for them to operate them on the sidewalk?

  18. North End Dad:

    We are preparing and starting the process of developing a route and getting it approved by the city and transit department. We have been told in meetings that although the law has gone into affect there is an unspecified and unwarranted waiting time until our routes are approved.

    The Federal case is currently moving forward. On the day that the case was filed the judge stated to provide service to the other parties before he would hear the case. Nothing has been denied and based on what has happened to date we feel very strongly that an injunction will be granted. The city and other parties have been given the option to waive service, but have refused to do so. Waiving service would speed the process along and lower costs for both parties. However, we now have to have the city served by the sheriff’s office. This alone will start to tally up and cost more on both sides. We believe there is a fair middle ground and that the city has directly discriminated against our specific type of tour. Additionally, they are requiring us to submit to rules that no other service or product has to.

    If the city had everyone's best interest in mind they would sign the waiver of service and get the hearing started.

    We are in no way telling tourists that rentals are illegal. Renters are not on a tour and as such have the legal right to use a Segway PT as a mobility device. Just yesterday we had a gentleman whose disorder caused muscle spasms in his back and legs and only through the use of the Segway was he able to tour the city on his own. This brings up a whole new issue; people have a right to choose what type of and kind of device is right for them.

    The law leaves a grey area as to whether it is illegal to run a business based around Segways. Doing so is to restrict trade and prohibit rentals, another clear violation of trade restriction.

    We are working through the changes and have shown over the last 3 years that we are flexible, have changed locations, policies, and added all requested equipment. We have done this to ensure that our services are as safe as humanly possible. Our services have been clearly decried as an inconvenient and an annoyance, not a safety issue. The city and others have now moved onto attacking accidents. No amount of regulation that will stop someone from hurting himself or herself. In over 40,000 tours completed no one has ever been hit by a person on one of our tours. If that is what the city continues to harp on about when it was refers to “public safety" then all of this is a non-issue.

    We ask only for consideration of the facts, not unfounded fears. We understand there is a gap that needs to be bridged and that we need to work toward understanding and ensure that all fears are addressed. We hope to help educate people about the Segway, its size, speed, and how it operates.

    We cannot put people in harm by putting them into the street without any protection or designated areas to operate in. The Federal Government and the Americans with Disabilities Act categorize the Segway as a pedestrian level device and a non-motorized vehicle. This city level ordinance violates federal law and the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are clearly sections of this law that are workable and reasonable, but as the law stands it puts our customers, Boston tourists, in harms way and will put us out of business.

    I too am a "North End Dad" and resident living on the very streets on which my company operates. My daughter attends St. John’s Elementary School, and my family shops and walks on the same streets you do. I am in no way against the local residents, but the local residents seem to feel as if they were here first and as such, only they are allowed to operate here. The North End is a diverse community and represents itself as such. Everyone must be able to live and operate his or her businesses within this community. We have tried to be good neighbors; we have donated time and money and bring hundreds of tourists into the North End each week. We have offered to help with different public events and groups and instead have been shunned as outsiders. This is not the example we feel should be projected in our community.

    We truly hope these issues can be resolved in a fair and equitable manner, but up to this point the residents of the North End and the city of Boston have been on the attack. There has been no dialog, but rather unfair legislation and demonization of Boston Gliders and the Segway without attempts to communicate or understand the conditions under which we operate.

  19. Mr Danley,

    Thank you so much for having someone else draft your latest response. It's refreshingly coherent.

    I still disagree completely, but my head doesn't hurt from reading it.


  20. Mr. Danley:

    Thank you for the lengthy response. I am not a resident looking to go after you with pitchforks and torches, but I do have concerns. I often am walking with my children on the sidewalk and have to quickly move to protect myself and them from rapidly moving Segways. I am glad to hear that you are working with the city on establishing approved routes and hope you come up with something that works for everybody.

    I sympathize with your position as a business owner and again agree that you have a right to take whatever legal recourse you think appropriate, but I think you need to agree that unless you get an injunction or overturn the ordinance through the courts, the law does apply to you. Do you agree?

    I agree that certain parts of the ordinance need time to get in place like approved routes and licensing procedures, but I have read the ordinance and it seems that certain things are clear regardless of what other regulations go into effect.

    First, the law is clear that tours must operate in the streets, not on the sidewalk. I have seen Segways on the sidewalks within the last couple days. Are you going to comply with the law in this regard unless a court overturns it? Or do you feel so strongly about it that you intend to ignore it and accept whatever consequences there are.

    Second, the law also requires you to make sure all tour members understand the ordinance. This seems to be an extremely reasonable provision. I was troubled by your response that you were not telling tour members that the law prohibits Segways on the sidewalk. Perhaps I misunderstood your response. Even if you feel strongly that the law is wrong, I don't think you have the right to make that decision for others. Are you informing your groups that Boston recently passed an ordinance prohibiting Segways from the sidewalk and letting them make the decision on their own?

  21. OMG….I just saw a Segway tour on Hanover St (headed to Commercial) that was actually in the STREET and on the right side of the road! I was so shocked I couldn't get my cell phone out to video it.

  22. Too bad there is no North End "Worst Business" award. Boston Gliders might win it annually. This company has disrespected the neighborhood and the neighbors since it moved in. Recently I and other people had to move out of the way so one of their tours could breeze through Christopher Columbus Park. They are like Make Way for Ducklings on speed. It should be a no brainer that quick moving motorized vehicles don't belong in a crowded park with so many pedestrians. Boston Gliders needs to stay on the street.

  23. You have a personal war againt this company and want to see this thriving business bankrupt . . doing a good job, I feel sorry for the owner whoever he is, I walked along Segways many times, never an issue, they seem fun, they bring business to the area and you simple have a personal VENDETTA agains this company. Occupy your time on more important issues and let the business work.

  24. More than once I've had mothers and nannies bump into me with their baby carriages…one ran over my foot…
    More than once I've had folks on their cell phones bump into me which resulted having hot coffee spilled on me…
    More than once I've been tangled up by dog walkers leashes…
    More than once I've witnessed (from my suite window) people shooting dope in the middle of the day…
    More than once I've…
    What I'm trying to say is where does it end? It's called life – learn to embrace it – ALL of it. Stop whining and complaining, stop with all the drama..AND know the difference between an "inconvenience and a REAL problem".
    P.S. I have yet to have an 'issue' with a Segway, and if, and when I do, it won't become an 'issue' because I won't make it one.

  25. Do you think if Mr. Delaney opened a second operating base on Beacon Hill or Back Bay and these "pedestrian" devices were rolling down the sidewalks of Charles St. or Newbury St. on a regular basis, they would be tolerated by the residents of those neighborhoods?

  26. The bottom line is this business is operating illegally. The law was instituted because the actual, non-fictional citizens of Boston are in favor of restricting Segway use. If there were really anyone in this city that wanted to speak out in favor of Boston Gliders, they would have done so over the past 3 years. Whomever my Danley has recently hired to work on this case should try not to be so obvious. Quickly complete your legal action and move on.

  27. Dear Mr. Danley:

    As someone who has had serial bad experiences with Segways when they seemed a frequent bane on the Cross Street plaza long ago, I approached you. You chatted with me, apologized for one aggressive operator and even helped me identify him with your own description. You were very nice and seemed genuinely concerned. I appreciate that.

    While others have correctly pointed out that you cite a non-profit page's information as civil law and have not been informed by your legal counselors that discrimination and civil rights pertain to protected classes of people and citizens respectively, you continue to miss the point that Segways are an inappropriate vehicle for some areas. Our sidewalks are a bad place for them. You just chase after laws, existent or non-existent, that you then attempt to twist at the expense of legal integrity and the very freedoms of the actual people your businesses vehicles immobilize, force to move and endanger or annoy.

    As for the economics, I would love to do a study a study of on-foot tourists versus those on Segways. I would guess the Segway folks come here for a quick tour and leave. The Segway is not conducive to seeing anything. It certainly does not provide a stop in stores.

    I would love to meet this jogger out of whose way you had once to "jump." As an avid runner, I assure you, no one has to jump out of runners' ways. There is also a reason why different tours are not receiving the same scrutiny yours are. Bikes, by law, are not supposed to be on the sidewalk. There is a reason for that. Bikes are thinner, more nimble and easier to navigate on a sidewalk; yet, they are banned from sidewalks.

    I frankly don't care where you live, for how long and with how many children. I know only that your tours' vehicles are assaultive–you force a person to move aside, to crunch up against a wall, and to be immobilized. This is tantamount to assault. (I would point out that assault does not need involve physical contact. I would cite the video on this blog that shows visual evidence of these three assertions fby me.) Fortunately, I am sane, and just kind of get out of your segway, pun intended, without harboring any fantasies of police assistance.

    But at the end of the day, your Segways have gotten in my way, forced me to move rapidly out of their way–or flat out immobilized me. I personally feel it is unfair that you have this impact on my life. One day, at, if I recall correctly, Commercial and Fleet, or maybe Richmond, your tour guide did not look where he was going, acknowledge my friend and I, or make any indication that he forced us off the sidewalk and into the street, between cars. Nice.

    Allan, I would encourage a realization that Segways are inappropriate on our sidewalks and in many areas of the City. Let's face it, you can't really "see" much if you’re driving on a sidewalk. Segways are wonderfully tolerated by federal regulations right now. Segways are relatively new as a sidewalk clearing device, and not all communities are both walkable and walkable mainly single file. While Segways may be safe per se, it does not mean they are potentially unsafe in the wrong circumstance–or just plain a nuisance. There really isn't room for them. They ruin whatever moment they run through.

    One can easily read that the riders immediately gain a pack mentality, with these weird frozen grins, enjoying a ride and sometimes their power over pedestrians. I don’t see anyone on a Segway doing much more than driving too fast, and looking gaily forward. They're not "seeing" anything in any experiential sense of the word.

    You are not being discriminated against. Your civil rights are not being violated. And everyone sane wants a strong business community. What you are being is dense. You cannot just admit these things are inappropriate for our neighborhood, especially most notably where any riders would be seeing the meat of the neighborhood.

    This isn't about you being a victim. This is about your business operating at everyone else's expense.

    Segways are in successful use all over parking lots, resorts, and open areas. Let's hope they find their proper place in history. Obsolescence outside of rare, practical use. And off the streets of Boston they encumber. And away from the good citizens that they, at the very least, badger in a way that gets closer to violating rights than any concerns expressed about your most awkward-to-area business.

    You're not the victim here. The good people of this community are.

    Best regards,

    Brian Brandt

  28. I have never had a problem with segways. They have always been polite and I hope they stay in business.

  29. @Lavinia….Segways are a public safety issue and do not belong on the sidewalks. It is not an inconvenience…it is a pedestrian nightmare. If U have never had a problem with segways good for you. The rest of us are sick of being forced up against buildings and into the street by lazy tourists who could easily WALK the streets of the North End.
    @Veronica Sawyer…If you have never had a problem with a segway you have never been on Commercial st, Hanover St, near the old north church or on the Greenway. RU a Boston Gliders employee or relative>

  30. Segway riders were spotted using the sidewalk at the TD Garden just last week. Too bad this law breaking company can't be shut down. This area has always gotten plenty of tourists before Segways and will get plenty after the Segways have gone.

Comments are closed.