Segway case back in court

By Imran Ali

Neal Summers rode his Segway on a footpath. Photo / APN
Neal Summers rode his Segway on a footpath. Photo / APN

A Northland case poised to set a legal precedent nationwide for the classification of Segways could drag on until the end of the year.

The case of Kaikohe Hotel owner Neal Summers - pulled over by police and later prosecuted in the Kaikohe District Court for riding his Segway on a Kerikeri footpath in June 2011 - was part-heard in the Whangarei District Court yesterday.

Time constraints meant proceedings had to be adjourned until July 30 when a date for re-continuation of the hearing would be made.

The High Court at Whangarei quashed Mr Summers' conviction in July last year and rescinded his $1150 fine and loss of 15 demerit points for riding his Segway - an upright, motorised scooter.

He claims that the Segway is a mobility scooter and not a motor vehicle that has to be registered.

The New Zealand Transport Agency is arguing that under the Land Transport Act 1998, Segways exceed 1.5kW in power and are therefore not classified as mobility scooters.

NZTA senior engineer Samuel Uprichard told the court the maximum peak power of a Segway of 3kw could be determined either by checking with the manufacturer or through independent tests. He said Segways were clearly designed for use by able-bodied people and not suitable for those with a disability.

Segways NZ managing director Philip Bendall said from an estimated 85,000 Segways sold in New Zealand to date, 15,000 were bought by disabled people.

He argued that the motorised scooters' maximum continuous power output was between 735 watts and 750 watts.

Mr Bendall said the problem with NZTA assessment was that it didn't consider the fact that Segways have unusual motors in that if one failed, another provided back-up power. A previous application by him for NZTA to classify Segways as mobility scooters was rejected.

Mr Summers said two artificial knees as well as a metal rod holding a femur together made walking difficult.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 22 Aug 2014 05:31:08 Processing Time: 385ms