May 29, 2024

Rail Killer

Dean Kamen’s Segway HT, short for Human Transport, has opened a new frontier
in the battle with traffic congestion and air pollution. If you are not familiar with the device,
read this article by Jane Hadley of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Imagine five lanes of traffic filled carbon monoxide belching automobiles, lined up
and immobile as far as the eye can see, tail-lights blinking on and off as the clock
ticks closer and closer to 8:00 AM. Sound familiar? Houstonians in the audience
certainly would feel at home in that picture.

Now, imagine the same vast concrete runway topped with snappy little Seqway
scooters zipping along at forty miles per hour, each one carrying the same number
of commuters as today’s automobile. That is to say, one. Does this seem like a
more effective use of resources to you? Taken as a whole, time, money, and natural resources would be greatly conserved by this transformation.

My own wife will scoff at this idea and mock me in front of the children, certainly it is not without difficulties, but it does make sense. The list of petty complaints will be endless. “It’s raining!”, “I want to go faster!”, and “My scooter is ugly!” will be mantras heard across the land, but to no avail.

Houstonians are currently involved in a struggle over whether or not to spend billions
on rail systems over the coming decades. I submit that future generations of personal
transport devices will be a much more cost effective solution.

Ultimately, some form of this vision will replace the internal combustion engine, it is as simple as that. When our grandchildren look back at the year 2002, they will recognize the
importance of the Segway as being the first useful personal transport device.

It certainly will not be an easy transition. Today in Houston, on nearly all of our surface streets it is far too dangerous to ride a bicycle. Amidst much gnashing of teeth, simple economics says room will be made for the Segway’s offspring. Not convinced? Remember, people like my parents actually WANTED to drive those ugly blue Honda Civics back in 1975. Hard to believe.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

View all posts by marc →