Why focus on Segway?

To the editor:

I’m curious to know if Bob Sanders considered including in your article (“Suing Segway,” July 18-31 NHBR) data on lawsuits from other new products that people have misused and then sued the makers for the user’s resultant injuries? I am also curious to know if he has ever been personally instructed on how to ride the Segway PT? The reason I ask this second question is that had he been properly trained by a professional – which the makers of the Segway PT strongly suggest (and most reputable dealers insist) that you do – you might have added some of what I believe to be very important information to your story.

Perhaps he was charged with only outlining the quantity and quality of lawsuits on record. But even in that scenario I would think due diligence on the product itself is called for. Certainly some comment from people “in-the-know” on how the product behaves under certain circumstances would have provided a better, more accurate story.

I began my association with the Segway PT as a tour guide, starting the first Segway touring company in Chicago in 2002. I then worked as a sales manager with a dealership selling the units because I was more enamored with the product than merely giving tours, although we also ran tours as a marketing tool for sales. I was responsible for training not only hundreds of patrons, but I also trained every tour guide I hired as a certified trainer. We also trained every person who purchased a unit, and I provided a special six-hour training course for every Segway-riding officer of the Chicago police and fire departments.

Back to my first question: did you consider including the statistics on bicycle injuries in your article, for comparison? Or scooters? Or skateboards? Or cars? I would imagine – especially with the dramatically higher speeds possible on even a bike – that there are thousands more gruesome injury stories you could have shared. And this is a vehicle for which no one insists on training before selling it to their customers. But I would be very interested to learn about the last time someone sued Schwinn.

I don’t work for Segway anymore, and even when I did I didn’t often respond to the many articles by people clearly ignorant of this unique, ground-breaking transportation solution. But occasionally someone like you hits all the right buttons with all the wrong misinformation and I am moved to write back.


Kathryn Lake
Chicago, Ill.

Bob Sanders replies: The reason we chose to look at lawsuits against Segway was because it is a high-profile company based in New Hampshire.
Segway officials did not agree to be interviewed for the article, but only issued general statements, so it was difficult to fully explain their side of the story. It would have been helpful if they referred me to someone like the letter writer.
I also was not able to find any publicly available statistics on Segway injuries, and the company would not release them, so I could not make comparisons to incidents with other types of vehicles, but I agree that such comparison would have been desirable, and would have put these lawsuits in perspective.

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