Segways Are A Bad Idea for College Campuses
|James H. Rimmer, Ph.D., Director
The Sun-Times reported that IIT will become the first "Segway-friendly" campus in the nation. Friendly to what or to whom? Certainly not to the student who finishes off a Big Mac or double latte and decides to jump on one of these motorized vehicles to get across campus rather than use some muscle-driven form of transportation. The article discussed how these two-wheeled, battery-operated devices are going to be the means of transportation for students desiring to saunter across campus to grab their favorite flavored cup of coffee at the student union, or to "motor over" to the dorm to see a friend. According to the article, these "futuristic" energy-saving devices will soon appear on campuses and street corners across America and will revolutionize our means of transportation.
My only question is, "Whatever happened to the plain old bike?!" We are in the midst of a national epidemic of obesity and physical inactivity with zillions of energy-saving devices coming to market each day that result in burning fewer calories by allowing the machine to do all the work, rather than our muscles. We've all seen and read about them - remote control devices for the TV, radio, DVD player, front door, etc., to the electrically heated ice cream scooper that allows you to slice through that half-gallon of Ben and Jerry's without using your arm muscles. While the couch potatoes of the world applaud this new muscle-saving device, those of us battling America's bulge weep over another device that encourages less physical activity.
I can't imagine a Segway getting someone to class any faster than a standard bicycle. And where do the extra calories go that are not burned up getting to and from classes? Given that most students stroll or wheel across campus several times a day at 20 calories a pop, using a Segway could end up depositing surplus calories into your fat cells! Here we are in the midst of a national epidemic of obesity and inactivity and the great minds of the universe come up with another energy-saving device that will severely reduce our need to burn calories and subsequently create a growing surplus of food or calories that will end up on the hips, arms, or midsections of college students across America.
As if we haven't heard enough about the rising tide of obesity and inactivity - kids becoming heavier and heavier with each passing decade, adults spending more time in traffic jams and in front of computer screens for two-thirds of their life and the other third in front of the television set, and all the other anti-health habits from "Big-Gulp" 60-ounce drinks to buffet-style restaurants that condition us to eat until it hurts for less than the price of a ticket to a movie. And now the great savior of the world, technology, will make everything easier to do as we become less able to do it because of our "deconditioned" state. It won't be long before you'll be able to save another tenth of a calorie by thinking about what channel you would like to watch and having the TV link with your mind and change the channel instantaneously rather than having to push a button. It's called "thought technology," and it will be at your doorstep in the not-too-distant future. And so before you decide to donate your bike to charity or give it to your kid brother in place of a spanking new Segway at the going price of $5,000, think about where you're going to put those extra calories that don't get burned up getting you to your 8 o'clock class or to meet a friend at the library. The law of averages says that they'll end up on your hips or midsection.