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One more way to get around in Whistler

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It’s faster than walking. It’s more environmentally friendly than a car. It’s supposed to revolutionize the way we move around town.

And, best yet, it might just be coming to Whistler.

Council approved a pilot project on Monday night, which will allow for a six-week summer trial period of...the Segway.

"It’s definitely fun!" said Mayor Hugh O’Reilly who had the opportunity to zip back and forth on a Segway outside Municipal Hall a few weeks ago.

The Segway, originally code-named Ginger, was first revealed to the public about two years ago amid great speculation and hype.

Predictions on what Ginger actually was ranged from a hydrogen-powered hovercraft to a magnetic antigravity device. Turns out it was a battery-powered cross between a scooter and a bike.

The Segway is a two-wheeled human transporter, designed to move people faster in busy urban areas.

It does this simply by responding to body movements. A person steps onto a platform with wheels and grabs the controls at either hand.

If they lean forward, the Segway moves forward. Conversely, if they lean backwards, the machine goes in reverse.

And if you think about stopping, the machine simply stops though it does not have brakes. It can even pivot in one spot.

The Segway is designed to react to the shifts in its riders’ balance.

Whistler may just be getting a taste of this balancing act throughout the summer.

An American entrepreneur introduced the machines to Granville Island earlier this year so people can take a spin for 50 cents a minute.

Jack Cook said business started off slowly but as more people found out about the Segway business has been booming.

There are eight machines in Vancouver, four more are waiting to come, and there could be more on the way if the Whistler pilot program goes ahead as planned.

If successful, the pilot project could pave the way for a Segway rental shop in the resort.

Council debated bringing the six-week pilot project on Monday night.

Even though there is no wheeled transportation allowed through the village, some councillors were willing to forgo that bylaw to give the Segway a shot.

Councillor Caroline Lamont was not swayed. As a mother of small children, she said the village is one of the few places where children can run free without the worry of being knocked over by bikes.

"I think it’s inconsistent (to allow the Segway in the village)," she said.

"We don’t have wheels in the village now."

She reminded councillors when tourists were allowed to use roller blades in the village, "it was a nightmare."

Council decided to allow the Segway to travel in the areas where bikes are allowed to go.

"It’s not really a bike, it’s not a wheelchair, it’s not a vehicle in the typical sense...it’s a bit of an odd contraption that doesn’t really fit into our typical ideas of motorized vehicle," said Chris Bishop, planning analyst with the municipality.

If it goes ahead, Segway’s will be in Whistler from July 15 to August 31.

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