Key Points:

Could you please explain what regulations cover the use of Segways? Are they classed as mobility scooters, and thereby footpath only, or motor scooters, for road use, or both? Philippe Gianni, Auckland.

Neither, actually. The Segway is an anomaly.

For those unfamiliar with the vehicles, they look like an old push lawnmower, except they are powered by electric motors.

Advertisement

The rider stands on a footplate, leans forward to make the Segway go forward, leans back to make it go backwards, and steers with a handlebar arrangement. They can travel at up to 20km/h.

As for regulations - there aren't any. It's one of those machines that is not covered by any current laws.

The power output of the electric motors puts the Segway out of the range of what are called wheeled recreational devices, and so it cannot be used on a footpath. Neither is it appropriate for road use. Because of its lack of brakes, lights and seatbelts, among other things, it would not be able to get a Warrant of Fitness, and so cannot be driven on the road.

So where can you ride your Segway? Offroad, basically. On private land, farm roads, if you want to risk your expensive machine there, beaches perhaps, the local skateboard park.

But a source at the Transport Agency says that if you rode your Segway sensibly on a footpath, and did not do anything the public might object to, you might get away with it.

That said, there are 7500 police officers in New Zealand, and they are all likely to have a view on what constitutes careful use.

Auckland City parking wardens tested using Segways earlier this year but nothing has been heard of the outcome of the experiment. The NZTA thinks the wardens' use of illegal vehicles is not appropriate.

Although some states in Australia and the United States have banned Segways, there is no pending legislation here covering their use, at least not in the next five to 10 years.

Further unusual vehicles are likely to be seen in New Zealand as people try them overseas and import them for local use. While it is unfeasible to rewrite the road-user legislation to cover each and every case, something will have to be done eventually.

Why is traffic on Great South Rd in Penrose not permitted to turn left into Marei Rd, but oncoming traffic can turn right? Carol Morrison, Auckland.

Auckland City Council explains that the intersection at Marei and Great South is unique in that the kerbs meet at right angles, giving too tight a radius for a left turn into Marei. In my experience, this circumstance is not in the least unique: there are any number of intersections that meet at right angles.

A more plausible reason, which the council also provided, is that traffic coming along Great South Rd from Penrose and wanting to access Rockfield Rd and beyond, is prevented from using Marei Rd as a rat-run, or through route. That's more like it.