Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Fighting Crime at 12.5 Miles Per Hour

The Segway has finally come through for the Chicago Police Department.

The curious (and futuristic!) sight of Chicago police officers rolling around on Segways is surely familiar to anyone who has ventured near Millennium Park over the past few summers. At least one criminal was unaware of these electric-powered crime fighters, however, and he paid the price. Moments after someone was shot in the butt (seriously, you can't make up stories like this), Sergeant Segway sprang into action, chasing the suspected gunman down 21st Street and making the arrest after the suspect--a mere human running on legs--was outrun by the machine.

As Police Commander Kevin Ryan so aptly pointed out, "These don't wear down--people do." And let's not overlook the Segway's ability to act as a deterrent to crime. You're much more likely to notice the police presence when they are stoically rolling by on a pair of giant wheels. At the very least, you would think twice before shooting anyone in the butt.

When I first heard about the Segway Personal Transporter several years ago, my inner five-year-old boy jumped for joy. Finally! An alternative to old-fashioned walking! Surely flying cars and hovercrafts will be the next innovations to float down the assembly line! Unfortunately, the Segway has been around for about six years now and very little has changed. Sure, I can tour the Capital on a Segway, but if I want to walk down the block, I still have to put one foot in front of the other. What a letdown.

The price tag is even worse. After poking around on the build-your-own Segway site, the cheapest model I could order was $5,145, which is too much to pay for the cheap thrills of flying down the sidewalk at 12.5 miles per hour. And that price doesn't include any of the flashy Segway trimmings. If you truly want to pimp your glide, you can add a police light and siren, comfort mats and a LED taillight (batteries included!) for late night scootin'. But those amenities will cost you another $600. Why not save the money and just put a baseball card in the spokes?

Wake me when we're the Jetsons.

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