Over the past few years, the William & Mary community has been making various efforts at “going green.” Recently, the College’s Office of Parking & Transportation has found an environmentally conscious way to get around campus.
The new use of two-wheeled, self-balancing personal vehicles called Segways has helped cut fuel costs while offering the staff a more feasible way to maneuver the lots on campus.
“While going green was one of the biggest reasons why we purchased the Segways, our decision also had a lot to do with the nature of the business in terms of parking enforcement officers and how they need to get around campus,” said Bill Horacio, manager of Parking & Transportation. “The specific layout of this campus is more amenable to a Segway than an actual vehicle. They allow you to ride on pathways, walkways and bikeways that are not accessible to your everyday vehicle.”
When the Segways were being considered for purchase, Parking & Transportation were due to replace a vehicle that had a very large engine, got very low gas mileage and was in the shop more than it was on the road. Bearing in mind the repair costs as well as fuel, the Segways seemed to be a more logical approach.
Several other departments on campus have taken a liking to the Segways. Everyone from facilities management, to residential advisors, and the campus police have found great use for the Segways.
“Orientation and commencement are the times when the Segways come in handy the most,” Horacio said. “Every now and then other departments ask to borrow them and we let them because we know they are such a big help, especially during big events where there is a lot of traffic.”
Safety is a major factor on the Segways. Those who are authorized to use them wear gloves and helmets. Even though the Segway only goes up to 12 mph, it is important to be safe because those operating the vehicle are-after all-standing up.
“Although they are fairly easy to use since they react to your body movements, one must be very aware of the terrain they are entering onto,” Horacio explained. “The W&M campus goes from brick pavements, to hard sidewalks, to grass. Because you ride the Segway while standing upright, your balance and attitude changes as your enter different terrains. It is extremely important to always be alert.”
While there have been varied reactions to the Segways among the campus community, their benefits definitely outweigh any negative thoughts towards them.
“The Segways are here to stay,” said Horacio. “We may get more, but right now we have two which is the right amount for the size staff we have.”
While the Segways have had a great impact, a vehicle was still needed that would allow enforcement officers to get around on the main roads, as well as to transport the Segways when needed. Because of this, they purchased an electric pick-up truck to contribute to the “going green” initiative.