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Segs in the City: They’re Just Not That Into You


There are things worse than being small, electric and self-balancing in Washington. Such as: Being small, electric and self-balancing and having your tour guide’s speech regulated in Washington.  

Lucky for the city of monuments and tour guides, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently struck down silly requirements that tour guides pass a test and pay a fee to see if they know Teddy Roosevelt from Franklin Roosevelt. I wonder, isn’t life hard enough without regulations? If journalists have freedom of speech, why not Segs in the City?  

Is it that Washingtonians had an innate aversion to Segways, or was it more than that? I wondered: In a city such as D.C., with its infinite possibilities, had Segway tours become too much to endure? The answer is no, thanks to Segs in the City and their friends forever at the Institute of Justice, who sued to get rid of that D.C. rite of passage.

A big building in Washington named after some guy. (Cyra Master/CQ Roll Call)
A big building in Washington named after some guy. (Cyra Master/CQ Roll Call)

The most exciting, challenging and significant tour of the capital you could take is the one you take yourself. And if you find a tour company like Segs in the City that can use Segways to propel you while you take yourself on the tour, that’s just fabulous. And the best part is, everyone can make up their own set of facts.  

The author with fellow tourist Cyra Master. (Photo courtesy of Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)
The author with fellow tourist Cyra Master. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

The fact is, sometimes it’s really hard to get those darn facts right. That’s why we need judges such as Janice Rogers Brown and the D.C. Circuit Court to strike down things that aren’t fun. How else would I have learned from Segs in the City that Pierre Charles L’Enfant designed the city to be confusing to ward off invading armies? I always thought he designed it with ease of transit and the European ideal of a grand city in mind. Silly me!  

I also wouldn’t have known that L’Enfant designed the city around the Tidal Basin! According to our magnificent Segs in the City guide, that’s just what L’Enfant did. And here I thought the Tidal Basin wasn’t even created until the late 19th century, years after L’Enfant died! Shows me!  

And what about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt? He saved the country and all that, and I thought I knew enough about him. But I learned from Segs in the City, while we Segwayed along the Potomac River on Ohio Drive, next to his monument, that he served as president “nearly 16 years.” Who knew? I thought he died just a few months into his fourth term, making it just about 12 years and change.  

I also learned that where a horse’s hooves are on an equestrian statue actually tells you how the rider, be it Andrew Jackson or Stonewall Jackson, died. The way this nifty story goes, if a horse is, say, rearing up, that means the rider died in battle.  

So Andrew Jackson, whose statue near the White House shows his horse’s two front hooves off the ground, died in battle! I thought he died years after leaving the White House and decades after leaving military service.  

And Stonewall Jackson’s equestrian statue at Manassas National Battlefield Park in Virginia has all four hooves of his horse down. Who are those historians to say he was wounded by his own men and died a few days later? Segs in the City corrected the record, thanks to the invisible hand of the marketplace! With so many equestrian statues in Washington, thank goodness I can count on this information and tell people how people on horses died!  

Best of all, I learned — as we zipped past the Environmental Protection Agency on Constitution Avenue — that the EPA is in charge of national parks in our big, beautiful country! The National Park Service might think it is the regulator of to-die-for real estate like the Grand Canyon National Park and the National Mall, but that’s what happens to boring regulators in the face of Segs in the City and the Institute of Justice. Yay!  

The one thing they didn’t tell me at Segs in the City? That a 90-minute Segway ride around the capital was harder on these feet than clubbing the night away in a pair of Manolo Blahniks. All that standing, moving forward, self-balancing still makes you work for it. But all this fabulous stuff that I learned about this great city, which inspires dreams and dreamers, from my 90 minutes of touristic bliss makes those swollen feet a small price to pay. I’ve got a Segs in the City “I’ve Got Segsy Legs” Licensed Segway Rider card now to prove it.  

They say nothing lasts forever; dreams change, trends come and go, but tours of the capital with little regard for the facts never go out of style.  

On Segway’s corporate website, the firm poses four questions as part of the company’s mission, among them “Can you have more fun and do less harm?”  

I wonder.  

Related: Madame Tussauds’ Terrifying D.C. Presence Georgetown Cupcake; or, the Wait Tourism Most Fowl: DC Ducks

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