LibDem cheeky boy rides to Segway's rescue
Lembit Opik: Self-Balancing Bandit
Lembit Opik, the Liberal Democrat MP who functions as the House of Commons' own taxpayer-funded clown, has used parliamentary time to campaign to make Segways street-legal in the UK.
Describing his own Segway as a "miracle of convenience" to a near-empty chamber, the Daily Sport's top political columnist sponsored a debate last night on "Self-balancing Personal Transporters", in which he bravely sought to overturn his fellow parliamentarian's Luddite prejudices.
Segways are currently illegal on public roads and pavements.
"To paraphrase Shakespeare, I come to legalise Segways, not to praise them," the former Cheeky-botherer proclaimed. "The evil that machines do lives after them - the good is oft interred with their cogs, and so it could be with the self-balancing personal transporter."
"I have personally converted 120 British citizens to the personal transporter, or PT for short. Converts include those outstanding presenters Penny Smith and Kate Garraway on that excellent programme GMTV," Opik added, revealing his powerful media ties.
His speech was interrupted by a question from independent MP Andrew Pelling, who asked whether the US-designed Segway would be safe on the UK's bumpy and narrow pavements. Opik responded with reassurances: "I use a Segway on the United Kingdom’s roads, and indeed the byways of Montgomeryshire, and not once have I come to grief even though I have the road-based model."
In closing, Opik said that legalisation of the Segway for street use was "essential" if the government wants to address "climate changes that threaten our eco-sphere".
Transport minister Paul Clark congratulated Opik on securing parliamentary time to push the Segway agenda. He said the government had offered to discuss the Segway's legal status with its makers, but that he did not want to raise too much hope from Opik that British roads will soon swarm with motorised broomsticks. "We do not have a closed mind and shall take a balanced view of the opportunities," the minister said.
Opik's debate (read it and weep here) followed another debate on the war in Iraq. Not many more MPs attended that one. ®
A Google Image Search for "lembit opik segway" reveals two triumphant shots of our hero aboard his plastic steed, from the Liberal Democrats' own Flickr stream.
Mysteriously though, clicking through to the full-sized glory fails, as the photos seem to have been removed from Flickr. Surely nobody is embarrassed by his campaign?