Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Segway spins its wheels
. . . .

Segway spins its wheels

Katie Huston - August 30th, 2007
“I got hooked on Segways because of the joy of the glide,” Kathleen Russell says. “It’s always fun to share that with others.”
Russell is the owner of Segway by KAR in downtown Traverse City, where she sells and rents the self-balancing, two-wheeled machines. She stands on a Segway and zips around a pole with ease as I wonder, “How does it stay up?”
As though reading my thoughts, she shows me a flashing diamond of green lights on the platform. “That shows that the gyroscopes are reading the platform 100 times a minute,” she explains.
She opened Segway by KAR in August 2006. The dealership serves 15 counties in Michigan and two in Ohio, and offers six models, which range in price from $5,145 to $5,645. Accessories like golf bags and backpacks are also available.
Segways are entirely electricity-powered and can travel 20 miles on a charge, which uses approximately 10 cents worth of electricity. They emit 14 times less greenhouse gas than the average American car, and 20 times less than a large SUV.

A TRUST THING
It’s a trust thing, she explains as she demonstrates. And it’s simple. To go forward, you lean forward; to stop, you can lean back or stick out your bum. “I have my toes down as though I’m pressing them into warm sand,” she says.
The machine has a maximum speed of 12.5 miles an hour. In Michigan, it’s classified as a “personal assistive mobility device,” which means it can be operated on sidewalks, bike paths, and streets with speed limits of 25 or less. Half of the trips Americans take are less than five miles and transport a single passenger--trips that could be made on a Segway.
Before long, I’m swooping around the pole too. “This is fun!” I exclaim, giggling.
“And that’s what we call the Segway smile,” Russell says.
After 10 minutes of practice, we’re off. Everywhere we go, people are looking at us and waving. “If you’re in an introverted mood, go somewhere where you’ll be by yourself,” she laughs. “You’ll spend a lot of time showing it off.”
We meet an older man behind the city’s Maritime Academy, and Russell lets him give it a try. “Look at me! I’m a pioneer, just like the Wright Brothers!” he cries as we Segway together to the end of the pier. “First in flight!”

HOOKED
Russell first encountered a Segway in February 2006. Ten years ago, at 39, she was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s Disease, which impacts the nervous system and impairs motor skills and speech for many people.
Last year she attended a Parkinson’s Action Network conference in Washington, D.C. “One of my colleagues glided in on a Segway, and I just couldn’t take my eyes off it,” Russell said.
Before she got Parkinson’s, Russell was extremely active; she played basketball and softball for Penn State in the ’70s and used to bike from Toledo, Ohio to Traverse City.
“I was used to being able to do things like climb two fourteeners in a weekend,” she said, referring to the 14,000-foot-high mountains in Colorado. “Getting on the Segway was kind of like a return to that sense of mobility for me.”
“I’m a guy who works with words, and I can’t come up with the right word to describe it,” says Paul Heaton of TC, who rented Segways with visiting family members to take a tour along the Bayfront. “It’s an invigorating experience, because the technology is so fascinating and the simplicity is impressive.”

MOBILITY TOOL
Russell stresses a Segway’s role as “a tool for mobility.” Segways are great for people with injuries or prostheses, and for people who simply can’t move as much as they used to. Of the 85,000 people living in Grand Traverse County, she tells me, nearly 12,000 are disabled--over 14 percent.
Roen Tharp of TC has been paralyzed on the left side since he had polio in 1951. He uses a Segseat, an accessory that’s not unlike a bicycle seat, which allows him to both stand and sit. “It’s nice because you can use it on the trails. If you’re not able to walk that far, it helps a lot,” he says.
Tharp doesn’t own a Segway yet, but he hopes to buy a used one. “I think if people are used to being able to do things, and can’t as much as they used to, they should check it out,” he says.
Russell has heard people complain that Segways will make us all fat and lazy. However, she says, it’s unfair to presume that you can judge another person’s ability to walk. And she’s not trying to discourage people from biking or walking.
“We call it Segway by KAR because K.A.R. is my initials, but it’s also to say goodbye to cars,” she says. “We don’t want to replace bicyclists, we don’t want to replace walkers,” says Russell. “Part of my joy in Segwaying is the out-of-doors.”

OTHER USES
Segways are also great for family outings and tours, Russell says. “It allows grandparents to be really cool. It’s been a pleasure to see family reunions.”
Susan Close of TC surprised her husband with a family Father’s Day glide around the city with their kids, ages 12 and 14. “All of us just had these big grins on our face once we started riding them. Within five minutes we had the hang of it. It’s just a feeling of freedom,” she says. “My kids just zip around like it’s part of their body. We call it pod-racing because it reminds us of Anakin Skywalker.”
Segways also have many practical applications for security and business. They can be used in airports, in large warehouses, and for hospital security.
The TC police department has purchased one, which they use downtown. “They’re able to patrol all day for under 10 cents,” Russell says. “They’re eight inches taller, and they’re able to see above the crowd.” The Chicago Police Department has a fleet of 50.
Northern Michigan College received a Segway through an anonymous donation, which has been used by security, in classes, and as part of the energy demonstration center. “It’s a great resource for us,” says Heaton, the NMC director of public relations. “It has made our campus safety officers more visible and accessible.”

MOVING ADVENTURE
Although she hopes Segways can enhance mobility and create family fun, Russell also hopes that for the young and able-bodied, Segways will spark creativity and entrepreneurship. “It’s my hope that some people will decide to be a scientist or inventor,” she says.
“Sometimes I think I should’ve stopped at one Segway, but it’s been quite a moving adventure,” she says, laughing and adding, “pun intended.”
Segway by KAR is located at 130 Hall St. in TC. A lesson is $5 and goes towards the price of a tour, which is
$75. After taking a tour, a 24-hour rental costs $150. For more information,
call (231) 922-0KAR (0527) or visit
www.segwaybykar.com.


 
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