Make way for the Segway |

Make way for the Segway

A Segway tour around San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf in early 2006 changed Jim Harrold’s life for the better, and he has started a local business sharing the unique motorized experience.

The strange-looking, two-wheeled, self-balancing vehicle – it looks something like a scooter – is popular in tourist spots such as San Francisco and elsewhere. The high-tech Segways cost about $5,000, run on an electrical charge and typically are best used on sidewalks.

Harrold has had serious back problems for years, and his wife, Pam, has had heart troubles. Both had difficulty walking long distances without significant pain. But on that January day, they were as mobile as any other tourist in The City because of the Segway.

They enjoyed the experience so much that they decided to purchase three of their own Segways and start a business, Pamelot – A Segway Tour, from the couple’s Grass Valley home.

“This would put us back out in the world,” Jim Harrold said.

The couple started offering three-hour rides to several local points of interest for a flat fee of $50.

“It has a practical application and a fun application,” Jim Harrold said.

Segways also save the Harrolds gas money, as the couple uses the devices to travel to the grocery store and other local places.

Those Segway travels to banks and grocery stores, coupled with the tourist exposure, often are enough to create more business without additional advertising, Harrold said.

“No matter where you go, you have a crowd,” Harrold said. They park the Segways with other bicycles at grocery stores and hand out business cards to curious spectators, he added.

Noel McAleese and his wife took Harrold’s tour and saw all the interested individuals gravitate to the Segways. The McAleeses enjoyed the Segway tour so much, they decided to purchase their own Segways.

The Harrolds only offer tours and don’t sell the fancy scooters; the McAleeses bought their Segways in the Sacramento area.

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