To Mark The Release Of 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2', We Chart Some Big Segway Wins And Fails

How Difficult IS It To Stay On A Segway?

How difficult IS it to stay on a Segway?

Well, Paul Blart makes it look haphazard indeed - one minute speeding along happily, a knight effortlessly atop his shiny electric hobby horse, the next a helpless, legs-akimbo surrender to gravity, speed and other external elements.

We saw much of this the first time around in his Mall Cop escapades, and now he's back for more of the same in the Vegas-bound sequel, except this time the cars he manages to crash into are just that bit more shiny and expensive.

Paul Blart makes light work of his Segway, for the moment...

To mark the sequel's release, we take a look at the chequered history of the Segway, but first - can anyone ride one without fear? Or are they just for incredibly smart people such as, let’s say, US presidents?

The answer to the first question is, apparently, a resounding yes. Simon Leach of Segway Tours on the Isle of Man tells HuffPostUK that the minimum age for going on one of his machines is 10 years old. His oldest fun-seeker so far has been 94.

"It takes a while to get used to the balance of the machine," he explains. "But once you have, that's it, you're off."

Well, President George W Bush was certainly off on holiday in 2003, and the cameras were there to catch every moment

Unless you happen to live on the British mainland, that is. Simon's Isle of Man-based operations means he can take groups on trips ranging from inland plantation paths to splashing through the waves on the coastline. He even has a special licence to escort his Segway users along the promenade of the island's capital Douglas, which must be a bit intimidating if you’re walking from the other direction.

However, it's all a bit more restricted over here. Despite some spirited lobbying by a bunch of opposition MPs to the Labour Government back in 2008 - with Lembit Opik giving us the benefit of a personal demonstration the following year, see below - the Segway remains classified as a powered vehicle, and therefore subject to the nation's road traffic law, deemed unsafe for use anywhere other than on private property. One Barnsley resident fell foul of this back in 2010, and was fined the princely sum of £75 for being on the pavement.

Bearing in mind a new Segway will probably set you back around £6,000, this probably didn't seem such a huge sum. Despite this, the 'Segway scooter commuter' Philip Coates appealed against his conviction in the High Court, but lost. He'd originally bought his machine after trying one out in Florida - Segways on pavements are legal in more than 30 US states.

Meanwhile, the answer to the second question - can anyone stay on one? - is, obviously not. President George Bush, having recovered from his pretzel episode, nearly came a cropper on one while on holiday back in 2003 - unhelpfully for his spin doctors, happily for the world's press, all caught on camera.

And there is the apocryphal tale of the Segway's own 'inventor' riding his masterpiece to his doom, all the way off an 80-foot cliff. Expert Simon Leach is quick to clarify for me that this poor man Jimi Heselden had actually had a heart attack before he veered off, the machine wasn't to blame, and besides… he wasn't actually the inventor, just the owner of the company.

In the name of research, I get on one myself and am happy to report that, after a couple of minutes wobbling as forewarned, Segwaying around the place at a brisk 10 miles an hour is a supreme pleasure - some wind in the hair, sun on the face, similar to skiing, horse-riding or cycling, but with pretty much zero physical effort involved. No wonder people are lobbying for this emission-free way of getting around. I want to buy one tomorrow and start zipping along the Euston Road.

Of course, as Paul Blart could tell us, it's much funnier for everyone if you do actually fall off… hence this particular YouTube video being viewed more than 250,000 times… Actually, watching this bunch of epic fails, perhaps the British Government are right to hesitate.

Click here for info on Segway Tours on the Isle of Man. Click here for a list of UK-based operators.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is out on Blu-ray™ & DVD now. Watch the trailer below...


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