RASHMI OBEROI | 28 DECEMBER, 2017
The Segway or Personal Transporter (PT) is a fantastic, futuristic machine
Known as ‘A two-wheeled self-balancing personal transport’ - The Segway or Personal Transporter (PT) is a fantastic, futuristic machine that is fast gaining popularity as a tour aid, and a really fun way to get from place A to place B! These Segway experiences let you try out the incredible 'Lean and Steer' technology of the machine - until you have tried it for yourself, it is baffling to think that it could even work!
Wherever you are in the world, find yourself a wonderful Segway tour near you, so that you too can hop on one and find out what all the fuss is about! I just couldn’t understand all the hype around it till I got on to one in Madrid and then couldn’t get enough of it.
The Segway consists of two motorized wheels connected to a pair of articulated pads on which the rider places their feet. The rider controls the speed by leaning forwards or backwards and direction of travel by twisting the pads.
Invented in its current form in early 2013, the device is the subject of complex patent disputes. Volume manufacture started in China in 2014 and early units were prone to catch fire due to an overheating battery which resulted in product recalls in 2016, including one of 500,000 units sold in the United States from 8 manufacturers. The devices' increasing popularity in Western countries has been attributed, initially, to endorsement by the wide array of celebrities.
I was told by our exuberant guide in Madrid that the world can be divided into those sophisticated beings that have experienced the joy of Segway, and those poor chumps who have yet to know the pleasure. Whether you’ve tried it, loved it and can’t wait to do it again, or want to give it a whirl for the very first time, there is plenty going on in the Segway world. The Segway was launched with great hoopla as the transport of the future and ‘segwaying’ has since become one of the most popular off-road ways of getting around. With no licence required, simply climb aboard a self-balancing, eco-friendly, battery powered two-wheeler and off you go.
Never has travelling at the dizzy top speed of 12 mph been quite such fun! Best described as a cross between a skateboard and a tank, rather like a jet ski, this high-octane mode of transport requires drivers to steer and turn using body balance and skill. So that’s how we ended up enjoying an alternative sightseeing experience of Madrid on a sleek, self-balancing Segway with a 90 minute tour of the captivating Spanish capital. Gliding through the vibrant streets of the city and seeing some of its most iconic landmarks on our futuristic machine; cruising past the Royal Palace, Plaza de Mayor and the Templo de Debod and listening to an entertaining and educational commentary from our expert guide, we had an experience of a lifetime.
It’s simple: The guide greets you at a central location in Madrid and briefs you on a comprehensive safety guide before you step onto your state-of-the-art Segway. Once you get to grips with the self-balancing machine and then, once you feel confident, you are all set to explore the sights. After training for a few minutes, you live an experience that you won’t forget. We had an excellent tour guide and instructor who had us trained and ready in minutes and we had the most fun travelling all through the beautiful town of Madrid through the lanes and bi-lanes and looking at all the breath taking views. It is really an exciting and fun way to see the city. The Segway is simple to use. If you haven't used one before the tour guide shows you the ins and outs, letting you practice before starting.
Guided by our tour guide we travelled the old and monumental Madrid, visiting the most characteristic parts of the city. We started from San Miguel Square, in front of San Miguel Market, and we went through the Madrid de los Austrias, then by the Oriente Palace (also called Royal Palace), Almudena Cathedral or the Royal Palace, inevitable destinations in the capital of Spain, the famous Puerta del Sol, and the Plaza Mayor, whose origin dates back to the sixteenth century.
Passing the impressive Almudena Cathedral on the way to the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), arguably Madrid’s most sophisticated structure; you hear of the regal residence’s rich history and admire the gorgeous baroque façade and meticulously kept Sabatini gardens that surround the palace. Next, gliding over to the Templo de Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple that dates back to 400 BC; one discovers why Egypt deconstructed the temple and sent it as a gift to Spain in 1970. Then cruising through the renowned Plaza de España, one absorbs the energetic atmosphere and notes the sculpture of Spanish writer, Cervantes, in the centre of the square before travelling to the social heart of Madrid and then arriving at Plaza Mayor, a former centre for royal festivities and bull fighting. Once you bid farewell to your guide and group amid the enticing restaurants and inviting shops of the square, tapas and beer follows naturally!
All in all it was a great experience – the wonderful staff was very helpful and had a lot of knowledge of the city and made the tour fun for everyone. Since we did this the first day we arrived in Madrid, it was a great way to get an overall feel of the city. No better way to see some of the highlights of any city than with a Segway tour! You get to zip around a bunch of the more famous places and some little alleys and tiny squares that are just as delightful. I reckon it is the faster way to know all the little secrets of the city. Can’t wait to get on another one soon!
It is pertinent to mention here that Segway drivers have the same rights and rules to follow as that of a cyclist/pedestrian – the routes are well-tailored tracks. Vehicular traffic respects the Segway driver and does stop at road-crossings which is quite incredible!