Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Real estate agents: this is how we roll

Michelle Kennedy says the Segway attracts attention and is good for marketing. Photo / Greg Bowker
Michelle Kennedy says the Segway attracts attention and is good for marketing. Photo / Greg Bowker

Agents at an inner-city real estate agency are being asked to ditch their flash cars for a two-wheel personal transport machine to help them get around the Auckland CBD.

James Law Realty, which specialises in apartment sales and commercial leasing, is issuing its agents with Segways to help them get around the inner-city "traffic nightmare".

Principal agent James Law said the electric human transport machines would help agents get to their clients faster, and remove their worries about parking infringements if meetings lasted longer than expected.

"The CBD traffic is a nightmare and finding a parking in the inner city is an even bigger nightmare," said Mr Law.

"With the Segways, our agents can go straight to their appointments, and even taking their machines in the lifts with them."

Two Segways have been made available for agents to use this week, but plans are for the agency to have a pool of at least six personal transporters for its 14 agents.

"With the Auckland Council plans of having more footpaths and making driving more difficult, it makes business sense that we find an alternative means to get around," Mr Law said.

"We decided on Segways because they are environmentally friendly, and can be used on all terrains, from roads to sidewalks."

The Auckland draft masterplan revealed city planners wanting to reduce the 34,385 vehicles that come into the inner city each weekday morning by 500 over the next 30 years.

Plans to do that include malling parts of Queen St and having more walking paths and "shared spaces" similar to Elliot St.

Segways are manufactured by Segway Inc in Bedford, New Hampshire, and cost about $14,000 each.

Agent Michael Chen, 28, who used the personal scooter this week, says it has halved his response time.

"It's fantastic that you don't have to get stuck in traffic or look for parking, or be running to appointments," he said.

Another agent, Michelle Kennedy, is also thrilled at the prospect of getting around on a Segway because of the attention it draws.

"These Segways just attract attention. It's good for marketing and it's really a good thing when you're in the business of real estate," Ms Kennedy said.

Some local tour operators are also using these personal robotic transporters for sightseeing tours.

A United States study in 2010 found Segway scooters responsible for increasing the number of accidents.

The company's original owner, Jimi Heselden, died when he rode off a cliff on one of his machines.

Last December, a man was awarded US$10 million by the Bridgeport Superior Court after he suffered brain injury from an accident at a company demonstration of the two-wheeled vehicle in New Haven, Connecticut.

Segways are considered to be motor vehicles in Britain and cannot be driven on pavements.

SEGWAY DANGER

Sep 2010: Multimillionaire owner of Segway Jimi Heselden died while riding a Segway that plunged off a cliff.
Dec 2011: John Ezzo from Norwalk was awarded US$10m after a Segway accident left him with brain damage.
Dec 2011: Australian cricket commentator Ian Healy fell off a Segway scooter on the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
June 2003: United States President George W. Bush fell off a Segway at a high-powered meeting.

- NZ Herald

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