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Maxed Out

Parting ways on the Segway

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By G.D. Maxwell

In the Cariboo, home to Smilin' Dog B&B, there are some things that just aren't done, doncha know?

I know what you're thinking. Yes, necks tend to be a bit redder in these parts. Yes, you will find unregistered weapons of fast destruction mounted in the rear windows of pickup trucks. And yes, you will find plenty of people 'round these parts who would gladly and quickly exchange Ralph Klein for Gordon Campbell if for no other reason than at least when he's drunk, Ralph just beats up on homeless guys instead of crawling behind the wheel of a car.

But you'll also find a surprising degree of acceptance of things different. Lifestyles, as sexual orientation is euphemistically called, for one.

You'll find an inexplicable upbeat populace, despite having had virtually all the legs of their economic stool sawn out from under them. You'll find customer service in many places surpassing what we believe we've mastered in Whistler.

But you won't find any joggers.

Taking Zippy the Dog for a jog - poetic, ain't it?- is almost a stealth operation. We'll walk to the trailhead, lest we attract too much attention actually jogging in open view. Of course, even walking to the trail instead of driving a truck, car, ATV or motorcycle, in order of preference, is suspect. "Why walk when you can drive?" could well pass for the region's official motto if "Will work for pay" hadn't narrowly beat it out in a recent vote.

Cariboo folk are devoted to machinery. While the area around 108 Mile House is well-known for its extensive network of cross-country skiing trails, the locals are quick to explain they're just for tourists. Locals ride sleds during winter months. Big sleds. Powerful sleds. Sleds they also race on grass during the summer, so dedicated are they to them.

While I try to live in both worlds, my basic wiring is more attuned to the Whistler model. People in Whistler walk, jog, bike, paddle, cross-country and hike, often all in the same trip. Congestion on the Valley Trail is not infrequently more severe than it is on Highway 99.

So what in the world was council thinking when they green-lighted a pilot project for this year's most useless product - the Segway?

Let me see if I have this straight. Segway - cute as it is - runs on batteries. Batteries store electric energy. Electric energy has to be generated, transmitted, converted and fed into the batteries.

Whatever use Segways are put to in Whistler is going to be at the expense of...walking. Walking requires no dams, no run-of-river hydro projects, no coal-fired power plants, no nukes.

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