Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Test case to determine scooter rule

Artur Pelanda delivers pizza on a Segway. Photo / Michael Craig
Artur Pelanda delivers pizza on a Segway. Photo / Michael Craig

Use of motorised scooters on footpaths is being challenged in a test case.

Many businesses, such as Magic Broomstick Tours in Devonport, James Law Real Estate and Sal's Pizza, use Segways. And Taupo police also used them to patrol events until someone pointed out they could be unlawful.

The battery-operated scooters have a top speed of 20km/h and cost $7300 to $11,200. Their continued use, however, hinges on a man with two artificial knees and a metal rod in one leg.

Kaikohe Hotel owner Neal Summers has used a Segway as a mobility device for two years but was charged and convicted for riding it on a footpath in Kerikeri last June.

Summers appealed against the decision and a Whangarei High Court judge quashed the conviction and ordered the return of $1150 in fines and reinstatement of 15 demerit points. Whangarei District Court will re-hear the case next month.

That will set a precedent on Segway use and decide if the 1500-watt machines are suitable for footpaths, roads or private property.

Summers, who suffered a permanent injury when he was run over by a motor home in Florida in 1981, said he chose the upright machine because they were light and he could "go anywhere on it".

"I bought it when I had a knee replacement. The other leg has a lot of metal in it from my accident so they cause me a lot of discomfort and difficulty walking," Summers said.

Segway NZ director Philip Bendall said the machines were perfect as mobility scooters because they allowed people to stand, which was healthier, and look other pedestrians in the eye.

Jack Liu, of Sal's Pizza, said the company leased two Segways and had delivered pizza on them for two years.

"We are waiting to see what happens with the court case," Liu said. "At the moment we ride them on the footpath by the road but away from the pedestrians. "

- Herald on Sunday

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