The Segway is not as intuitive as it seems

There's some talk of President Bush falling off the Segway being a way to discourage people from using non-oil-based transporation. The article discusses how Segways are hard to fall off of, they're really easy to use, that no one gets injured from them.

It's all a lie. The Segway comes with lots of warnings about even though you really really want to step on, you need to watch the video. The video goes into all sorts of warnings about ways you can fall off -- and they're not the "don't put your cat in the microwave" sort of thing. These are reasonable things you'd expect to do on the Segway, but it doesn't support it.

I first tried the Segway on March 25. I watched the video first. And still, when I got on, it started oscillating back and forth. You need to practice just stepping on. I rolled along a few feet and hit something on the floor. And the Segway went crazy; I jumped off.

More recently, I tried the "e-series" Segway on June 6. (We have a "fleet" of them at work, mainly for their coolness; it turns out that in practice it's not faster than walking.) Even though I had practiced getting on the Segway, when I got on this one it started going crazy. It turns out that lots of people get hit in the shin when they try to get on. Imagine the Segway in front of you. You reach out, hold onto a handlebar, and step up. A natural thing to do when you're stepping up is to use the handlebar to help you up; you pull back on the handlebar. The Segway senses you're leaning back. It starts driving backwards. It hits your leg. Ick.

The way you turn on the Segway feels wrong to me. You twist something on the handlebar, like changing gears on a bike. Why not turn the handlebars? Or lean? Twisting a little circle on the handlebar caused trouble for me when getting on the e-series. The Segway started to move, I pushed back on the handlebar, but that made it turn too.

Once you're going on the Segway, it's pretty good. It's just getting on or off that's the problem.

Anyway, the Segway is really cool, but I can't say it's entirely intuitive. Maybe Bush did fall off on purpose. But it's more likely that he too experienced the unintuitive process of getting on or off the Segway.

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