I believe the best way to see a city is through the soles of your feet. But after lifting those feet a few inches off the ground on the San Francisco Waterfront Segway Tour I have to say walking has some serious competition.
On a Segway the city is up close and personal. You are closer to the action than you are on a tour bus but you can cover more ground than you can when you are walking. And it’s fun. This tour includes a lesson on how to use a Segway, an exploration of the city and a bit of time to just zoom around and take pictures once you’ve got the hang of it.
Learning to Ride
It wasn’t until I got there that it sunk in that I actually had to learn how to ride this thing.
I had a bit of a Flashback to the Harry Potter movie when the kids were learning how to get their brooms into their hands. “Stick your right hand over the broom and say ‘up’.” (That doesn’t work with Segways btw). You will be happy to learn that your Segways can’t fly away. Firstly, they don’t fly, they roll. And secondly, they can’t go faster than a pre-set limit. They are also very easy to stop so you don’t have to worry about them running off with or without you.
At first you intellectualize how to control your Segway. You get very specific instructions on exactly how to move. You are thinking “Look Ahead.” “Move my right foot.” But before you know it, the Segway feels like it is reading your mind. It isn’t. The Segway is just designed to intuitively read your movements.
Tackling the Streets of San Francisco
Everybody gets one-on-one instruction and there is enough practice to ensure that the whole group is confident before you head out on to the streets.
We formed a virtual bus and headed off into traffic. I had a moment of doubt bumping out of the driveway and zooming into the street. But I soon relaxed because our little group merged right on in without creating any issues for the motorists.
On the beginner tour we didn’t tackle Lombard Street (although there is an advanced tour that does). We did manage to navigate a few little hills and it wasn’t at all scary.
OK… So it’s Hard to Make this Look Good
Now you do look a little like a parking inspector when you are sporting your trendy reflective blue vest. But it’s comforting to have the safety gear. That secret service earpiece is so that you can always hear the instructions of the guide. The helmet is self-explanatory. The vests make it easier to keep track of everyone in your group. (Well, that and the fact that they are all on Segways).
As far as your own outfit, wear comfortable clothes and shoes that you can stand up in for in several hours. We were lucky enough to have an incredibly gorgeous day so I was happy to have sunscreen and sunglasses. In San Francisco, you might not always need that.
This was not a strenuous tour. However, at the risk of sounding like a total weakling, I will admit that my feet were tingling and tired after our first foray. I was happy to have a break at our halfway spot. It’s not really exercise but it’s not completely passive either. I can’t really think of anything else like that. I’ve never done anything like this before. But I’ll be doing it again.
- Melinda Harrington