In Chicago this past weekend, I noticed several police officers and other city security workers riding segways, those two-wheeled gyroscopic single-person modes of transportation introduced in 2001. I remember reading back then that the segway's inventor wanted to legitimize the vehicle by selling it to police forces, mail deliverers, and other governmental officials. According to Alex Marshall's transportation column in the June Governing, that strategy has had some limited success.
But watching the officers in Chicago, I couldn't help but think the transporters still aren't being taken seriously. One cop I saw was just standing there on his segway, while tourists posed with him and snapped photos. A segway-riding security officer was patrolling Millennium Park, but he seemed more to be showing off to the crowds who stopped to stare at the contraption. The device has already become a punchline on TV shows like The Simpsons and Arrested Development. I wonder what's in the near future for the segway: Will it continue to be seen as a novelty gizmo, or will it become an increasingly useful transportation tool for city officials and residents?