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City puts brake on Segway tours

Segway tours have become a popular way for Chicago tourists to cruise the lakefront, Millennium and Grant parks, but they’ve gotten a little too popular for downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd).

At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Reilly persuaded his colleagues to approve an ordinance that would put the brakes on Segway tours now dominating too many crowded sidewalks.

The ordinance would limit individual Segway tours that currently approach 30 tourists to “no more than eight devices per tour.” And if the tour includes more than three Segways at a time, the tourist speed could not exceed 8 m.p.h. while the tour leader could not go faster than 12 m.p.h.

Those speed limits would coincide with a state law that, Reilly claims, is not being enforced.

Segways would be prohibited from using the soon-to-be built Navy Pier Flyover, which would be confined to bicycle traffic. And Segways could not be used to “tow billboard advertising or trailers,” the ordinance states.

Violators would face fines ranging from $25 to $200 with the tour leader — not the tourists — held liable.

Reilly has said he’s well aware that Segways provide a unique way for tourists to see and enjoy Chicago. But he doesn’t want them to get out of hand. He worked with the Chicago Park District and the Police Department to draft the ordinance that has support from both departments.

“We’re having all sorts of pedestrian versus Segway conflicts. These tour groups can mushroom up to 25 and 30 Segways at a time, which leaves very little sidewalk space for pedestrians,” the alderman said on the day he introduced the crackdown.

“Pedestrians have complained about large Segway tours monopolizing sidewalk space. There have been near-misses due to excessive speed. This is designed to make Segway tours safe, not only for the tourists, but for the hundreds of thousands of pedestrians who use our sidewalks every day.”