HONOLULU STAR-BULLETIN / JANUARY 2007
Two HPD officers patrol on Segway transporters along Ala Moana at the intersection with Ward Avenue. CLICK FOR LARGE
Police patrolling on Segways startle driver
I was driving down Pensacola Street during afternoon rush hour on Wednesday, July 18, when all of a sudden, two police officers on Segways darted out from Lunalilo Street, making a left turn by Makiki Post Office. I almost nailed one of them. They had no signals, no sirens, nothing. They went down Pensacola, then turned right onto Beretania Street. Why are they allowed to be on the roadway? Aren't Segways the equivalent of electric wheelchairs and therefore, not allowed on the street? Are police officers given special rights to ride them on the street?
Answer: The Honolulu Police Department has obtained street usage permits, allowing officers to operate Segways on any sidewalk or roadway, according to spokesman Capt. Frank Fujii.
HPD is using three Segway Human Transporters to help "enhance community policing ... to get police officers out of their cars and make personal contact with citizens," he said.
They are still in the breaking-in stage and being tested in different areas, including Lunalilo Street in Makiki.
Sometimes, officers may "go into situations that we don't anticipate," because they're still trying to determine what the Segways' limitations are and how to get the best use out of them, Fujii said.
In addition to the officers' perspective, "we welcome any feedback like your reader gave us" to help make a full evaluation, Fujii said.
While HPD's Segways are allowed on roads, ordinary citizens are restricted to operating them on sidewalks and bicycle paths, at speeds no greater than eight miles per hour. Operators also must be at least 16 years old.
You can read the laws on "electric personal assistive mobility devices" on HPD's Web site www.honolulupd.org/community/traffic/2003act180.htm
Under Hawaii Revised Statute (HRS) Section 291C-134.5, Segways are "defined as a self-balancing, two-wheeled, non-tandem-wheeled device, designed to transport only one person, using an electric propulsion system that limits the maximum speed of the device to 12-1/2 miles per hour or less."
They are not the same as "motorized devices," such as Razors with motors, Go-peds, skateboards with motors, etc., which are covered under Section 15-4.11 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu.
A motorized device is controlled by an operator standing on the device, which is equipped with an internal combustion engine and propelled without human effort.
Motorized devices "shall not be operated on any public sidewalk or street."
Q: How do we contact the city to ask them to cut a tree that's about to fall? We're worried that a shower tree that's planted in the public sidewalk area will fall on our house the next time the wind blows hard. It's about 45 feet tall and scrawny.
A: Call the city Department of Parks and Recreation's Urban Forestry Division. The number is 971-7152.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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