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Meet Ballard’s highest-tech commuter

Posted by Geeky Swedes on April 29th, 2009

We’ve all seen Segways here and there, even at the Ballard Farmer’s Market. But we watched this gentleman, clad in a suit and tie, effortlessly cruise along the side of Phinney Ave. and drop down into Ballard like he does this every day.

And he does. The man told us, through our open window, that he commutes every day between his home near Swanson’s Nursery to Pioneer Square.

Update: The high-tech commuter has added more details in comments below. “It takes me about 40-50 minutes for my 8-10 mile commute (depends on which streets I take). I have been commuting this way for about 8 months and have clocked about 1400 miles on the Segway,” he writes. “It really is great fun!!!”

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52 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 seattlec2 // Apr 29, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I saw him last week, heading south on 11th just north of Market Street during the morning commute hours.

  • 2 Silver // Apr 29, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Wow – how long does *that* take?

    I would worry about standing so long. Isn't it bad for one's circulation?

    He certainly looks happy!

  • 3 BentonJ // Apr 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    That is too cool! I love it. Only in Seattle…

  • 4 peppy // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    I'm also curious as to how long this takes.
    I'd guess about 50 minutes?

    I think it's awesome! he does look pretty happy!
    does he stick to the roads or is he up on the sidewalk usually?

    thanks for the article, swedes!

  • 5 silence.kit // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    A bike would be faster and you'd get more exercise, but whatever.

  • 6 ballard sucka#2 // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    and would be greener too.

  • 7 SeaSpider // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    I've passed him a few times while bicycling to work. My guess is it probably takes him 60-70 minutes. The Segway seems to move at about the same speed as a moderately fast jog. My commute is almost identical and is 6.7 miles. If you stick to the bike paths and side streets you avoid almost all of the traffic lights that you'd normally get stuck at by going down 15th/Elliott. That right there is a huge time savings, over 10 minutes when I've timed both routes on my bicycle. I've run to work a few times and that takes me about 80 minutes averaging about 11 minutes/mile.

    I think the Segway is pretty goofy looking but the fewer cars on the road the better – less congestion for those who do need to drive, less pollution, less wear and tear on the roads, etc., etc.

    Silvergoth: Lots of people spend 8+ hours a day standing on their feet. Construction workers, nurses, teachers, cops, soldiers, waiters, and lots of other occupations routinely spend hours on their feet. You're very fortunate to lead an incredibly pampered and easy life if you're serious with that question. Also it's sitting for hours on end that's bad for your circulation, not standing.

  • 8 chopper_74 // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    cool, thanks swedes, it's nice to see someone enjoying their commute, and in no hurry.
    btw Silence, showing up at work in a suit and tie, and all 'pitted out' is no way to start the day. imho.

  • 9 SeaSpider // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Yep but he may not have access to showers/locker in his office. I bike to work but only because I have access to a shower when I get there. I know some people ride that far and don't shower but that doesn't work for everyone. Also people who ride that far and don't shower often do smell despite their claims to the contrary. People never smell their own stink and coworkers are usually too polite to point it out.

  • 10 silence.kit // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    There's a guy that bikes to work here, and just packs his suit and tie in a backpack. Seems to work for him, but I do agree with you, I certainly wouldn't want to ride my bike in a suit.

  • 11 Segway Glider // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Hi! I'm the “gentleman” on the segway. It takes me about 40-50 minutes for my 8-10 mile commute (depends on which streets I take). I have been commuting this way for about 8 months and have clocked about 1400 miles on the segway.

    It really is great fun!!! The fact that some would characterize it as “geeky” is fine with me (I'm a software geek by profession).

    For those suggesting a bike would be better for exercise reasons – you are correct, but I prefer not to exercise in my suit and tie during my commute (anymore than all the folks in cars and on buses ;-).

    If you see me on my glide home, and you are nice to me – I might show you how to ride my segway!

  • 12 SeaSpider // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Just curious, but what's the range on a Segway? Kind of surprised they can get 10 miles on a charge – that's pretty good for a pretty small battery that has to carry 200 pounds or more.

  • 13 chopper_74 // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    holy heck…you agree with me? You feeling ok buddy? ;-)

  • 14 chopper_74 // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    hey…that picture adds a few pounds ;-)
    But I'd like to know what the range is too…

  • 15 Segway Glider // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    20-25 miles range depending on temperature and hilliness of terrain. It weighs 110lbs and is officially rated to carry up to 260lbs between person and cargo. A cool feature is the batteries are Litium Ion so they don't suffer from memory problems when “topped up” like older battery technology. Plus, if you go down hill or do a lot of braking – you get more range as it has regenerative braking. I plug it in while I am at work so it is fully charged for both directions of my commute, but not necessary. Back in December/January when the temperatures were in the low 30's I suspect my range was taken down to about 15 miles on a single charge.

  • 16 chopper_74 // Apr 29, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    thanks for the info…enjoy your day!

  • 17 matt // Apr 29, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    “Wow – how long does *that* take?”

    – 7.7 miles from Swanson's to Pioneer Square (google maps “walking” directions)
    – 12.5 mph is the segway top speed (from
    – 7.7 miles x 12.5 mph * 60 minutes/mile ~= 37 minutes

    The theoretical best case is roughly 37 minutes. In reality you would have some stops though.

  • 18 Silver // Apr 29, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Yeah, I've done retail. ;-)

    My understanding is that moving around helps circulation. It would be tough on my body if I was confined to one p0sition for an hour or two a day, either sitting or standing. It was tough back when I had an hour bus ride – and then I had the option of changing positions!

    I'm sure he knows better than to lock his knees!

    Maybe he has some physical limitation that keeps him from running, walking or bicycling – a bad knee or the like. Then it would certainly make sense! Commuting without the car is good!

  • 19 Joe // Apr 29, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Is that a purple suit?

  • 20 milo dakkat // Apr 29, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    One more reason we need another traffic circle on 11th ;-)

  • 21 chopper_74 // Apr 29, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    lol…well, I'm color blind, (literally and metaphorically), but, I'd guess it's blue…

  • 22 Segway Glider // Apr 29, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Blue it is…the purple suit was at home on Monday ;-)

  • 23 Segway Glider // Apr 29, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Just like standing on the bus: you can move around, shuffle your feet, bend, etc. Locking your knees on a segway over anything other than perfectly smooth pavement is an accident waiting to happen (the first good pavement imperfection will buck you right off).
    I find it works best (and is most fun) to approach it exactly like riding a dirt bike or a horse – loose legs, letting it “bounce around” underneath you- with this stance, you can pretty much go full speed over most surfaces and you don't get tired or numb like you would if you were standing rigidly in place the whole time.

  • 24 Segway Glider // Apr 29, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    “Maybe he has some physical limitation that keeps him from running, walking or bicycling – a bad knee or the like. Then it would certainly make sense!”

    Nope (unless sweating is a physical limitation). That said, I got into Segways when I bought one for my wife who does have limited mobility -I decided to see what it would be like to commute to work on it…and it stuck (we have 2 of 'em as a result – I didn't steal hers :-)

  • 25 chopper_74 // Apr 29, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    wow…like a broken clock….right twice a day ;-)

  • 26 Armed Pacifist // Apr 29, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I've seen it a bunch of times in New York.

    Yet again, Seattle is playing catchup but thinking it's ahead.

  • 27 Armed Pacifist // Apr 29, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    You folks won't be happy until we move back into caves and die at the age of 25. The old days were very green too.

  • 28 Midgetina // Apr 29, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Why don't you use the Segway on the bike paths? It would be safer (for you and for drivers) and faster, wouldn't it? Isn't it just another two-wheeled electrical mobility device (like an electric bicycle)?

  • 29 Segway Glider // Apr 29, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    “Why don't you use the Segway on the bike paths?”

    State law says that Segways are allowed to go anywhere pedestrians go (sidewalks, bike paths, etc.) – they are classified as “Electric Pedestrian Mobility Assistive Devices” (EPMADs). State law also allows local municipalities to override that law. About 5 years ago, there was a company that rented segways at Greenlake. I am told a number of renters (segway newbies) took them on the bike path around Greenlake and wreaked havoc. Some bicyclists petitioned the City of Seattle to ban Segways from Bike Paths – the city obliged. So – Segways are banned from bike paths within the city limits :-(. It really is unfortunate given that the bike paths are safer than dealing with all the intersections along my commute, I go as fast as many bikes and take up no more space than a pedestrian (24″ x 24″ footprint of the segway). Interestingly, electrically assisted bicycles are allowed on bike paths in the city…in short, it makes no sense -but, it is what it is…meanwhile – I stick to the sidewalks and side streets when in the city. Other segway commuters outside of Seattle that I know get to enjoy the paths. Oh well…I'm still happier than I'd be in a car or on the bus ;-).

  • 30 Trix // Apr 29, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    A few bad apples spoil it for the whole bunch. But it does sound like you're having a lot of fun on your commute.
    And how many of us can say that?

  • 31 chopper_74 // Apr 29, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Reactionary idiocy…but, that's Seattle in a nutshell ;-) Stay safe, and have fun…if that's still allowed…
    hmmm…you don't 'drink and segway' do ya? ;-)

  • 32 Kiki // Apr 29, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    He is awesome.

  • 33 nina // Apr 29, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    Or maybe he's disabled and unable to bike.

    He did say why above but none the less…

  • 34 SeaSpider // Apr 29, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    Wow, that ban is idiocy at its finest. I can see not allowing the rentals around Greenlake – that could be a problem for a lot of people – but banning them on all bike paths is dumb. That's like saying we should ban all cars from the road because a few people drive like maniacs. The few Segways I've seen are certainly easier to deal with than the people who insist on walking their dog on a 10 foot leash or people who insist on walking or riding 3-4 abreast and blocking the entire path.

  • 35 Trix // Apr 30, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Yeah. Agreed. I see it at Greenlake, there are enough hazards there. But banning them from all bike paths is just stupid.
    I'd much rather have a law against numerous adults pushing one stroller. How many people does the kid need, anyway?

  • 36 Kindly old Norwegien Lady 82 // Apr 30, 2009 at 2:00 am

    Oh, dont pay attention to the man named Silent Kit. He is a looney.

    If I ws younger, I might join you and get a Segway myself

  • 37 SeattleRichardson // Apr 30, 2009 at 2:03 am

    Segway Glider Guy- I just saw you tonight for the first time after reading this….too funny! You were really getting into the corners and quicker than I thought, kudos. The suit is a great touch. Tried to read your bomber sticker but couldn't make out the ip address.

  • 38 Bob Kerns // Apr 30, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Why wait until you're younger?
    My mother turns 76 today, and has one.

  • 39 Segway Glider // Apr 30, 2009 at 2:22 am

    The bumper sticker on the back says “There is no place like″ (translation: “There's no place like home” ;-).

    Part of the fun of gliding is getting into the corners – particularly when you get a two-wheel drift going!

  • 40 SPG // Apr 30, 2009 at 2:23 am

    And yet another alias for another story. What's with the schizophrenic need to be someone else every time you want to say something?

    Ballard Tribune Double Standar
    Ballard hippy tea girl
    Wrong Meth House. Ha ha
    San Fran Pete
    Big Fight at Bergen Park
    I dont know the lady but..
    Meth Heads hate pretty things
    Rockabilly Posers are as bad
    Just pay you taxes and shut up
    Starbucks Arson. Please read
    I like Egans
    FEMA Camps
    Dumb question but..
    Thursday Foodbank Panhandlers
    Dumb Question but..
    Food Bank
    Sad story indeed
    Take back our streets
    The End Of Ballard
    The kindly old woman 82
    Good Riddance
    Kindly old Norwegien Lady 82
    Kindly old Norwegian Lady 82

  • 41 Segway Glider // Apr 30, 2009 at 2:24 am

    Flag me down sometime and I'll give you a lesson. If you can stand up, you can use a segway! :-)

  • 42 Kindly old Norwegian Lady 82 // Apr 30, 2009 at 4:29 am

    Well when she turns 82, we should have some crommetts and tea. he he he

  • 43 SeattleRichardson // Apr 30, 2009 at 5:24 am

    ahhhh….that's what it was. Thanks!

    I see what you mean…it was almost like your were surfing! good stuff!

  • 44 angelatini // Apr 30, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    I haven't seen the “rockabilly poseurs” bit anywhere on here before. Who was saying that? Just curious. It cracks me up since I've been going to the shows for as long as I can remember, and can relate.

  • 45 BallardDINK // Apr 30, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    That is so rad. Thanks for the fun story, GS. :)

  • 46 pavedwave // May 1, 2009 at 3:10 am

    if they ever get down to $1000 i'd be more tempted.

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