Starting next year Californians could be zipping along sidewalks on electric personal assistive mobility devices under a bill signed Saturday by Governor Davis. The devices are two-wheel vehicles that have electric motors, carry one person, can turn in place and run at top speeds of less than 20 miles per hour. Currently, only the sponsor of the bill, the Segway Company, has a patent to make the devices, which it calls Segway Human Transporters.
Segway has built an assembly plant in New Hampshire that is designed to produce 40,000 transporters a month by the end of 2003. The bill signed by Davis allows the vehicles to be used on sidewalks, but it gives local governments the ability to regulate how, where and when they are used or to ban them altogether.