Yorks cops charge Segway rider under 1835 road law

He didn't even have a man carrying a red flag

South Yorkshire Police have charged a Segway rider with breaking the 1835 Highways Act by riding the gyro-hog on the pavement.

Phillip Coates, 51, was collared by coppers in his native town of Barnsley while whooshing down to the shops on the self-balancing two wheeler, The Star reports.

A local copper stopped him because he was riding on the pavement. According to The Star Coates bought the device after trying one out while on holiday in Florida.

"I've used it ever since for going to work and for trips into Barnsley," he told the Daily Mail. "They are perfectly safe and I've even let my mum, who is 86, have a go on it."

While he has been stopped in the past he heard no more about it from the police. This time the copper took a more serious view of the matter, and charged Coates with riding a motor vehicle on the pavement under the Highways Act 1835.*

Mr Coates has pleaded not guilty to the charge. If nothing else he can argue the toss over whether the electro-pogo-sticks are indeed motorised.

The Star quotes solicitor Victoria Molloy, of Howard and Co, saying: "Hopefully it will go some way to providing a basis for legal regulation in the UK. Until now no-one has ever been charged with an offence in order for this to be challenged in law."

A DoT spokesman told the paper: "Current legislation restricts Segway use in the UK to private land such as airports and shopping malls. We would require robust evidence to support the benefits and further consideration of the risks posed to users and others before reviewing this."

Coates could of course raise the issue with MPs. But sadly the Commons' keenest Segway campaigner Lembit Opik was told to get on his (old-fashioned) bike by voters at the last election. ®

Bootnote

Readers have questioned how the act can refer to a motor vehicle in 1835.

The act does promise dire consquences if:

If any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon

It also refers to:

the driver of any waggon, cart, or other carriage whatsoever, or of any horses, mules, or other beast of draught or burthen meeting any other waggon, cart, or other carriage, or horses, mules, or other beasts of burthen, shall not keep his waggon, cart or carriage, or horses, mules, or other beasts of burthen

If carriage doesn't cover it, we're pretty sure "horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle" should.

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