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Is This Really Necessary?

About a decade ago, when the Segway scooter was launched, I thought to myself “how much do we, as a society, really need this?”

Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that climbing on this “personal transporter”, despite it’s very unusual appearance, is much easier on the environment than climbing into your gas guzzling SUV to make it down the four city blocks to your office building – but is it really all that difficult for us to walk short distances?

One of the landmarks for 2009 on Segway’s website is the fact that “Segway Social” users have logged in excess of one million miles on their personal transporters – I’m guessing that if a few more of those miles had been logged on the feet of those users than on an electric scooter that the outlandish obesity rate in this country might not be quite so high.

Well, ten years have passed since the launch of the Segway, and the engineers with Honda have been working diligently to solve the only real problem with Segway’s place in the world – it was a little too bulky for indoor use. Many people were still being forced to do the unthinkable and actually walk to get from one place to another when inside.

Introducing the U3-X, an electric unicycle designed to transport people around congested indoor areas.  Check out this link to read a bit about this new mode of travel and to check out the company’s demo video:

Though the U3-X is still under development, Honda has stated that there are no plans to be selling this personal transporter to the public quite yet.  Target initial uses are traveling around airports and large hotels, but spokespeople for Honda say that they are very open to the additional uses of the U3-X, particularly those that target young people.

Could this machine be useful? – I’m sure it could, just as I’m sure that there are positive uses for the Segway, but I can’t help but be curious why we are always looking for things to aid us in not having to move our bodies.  There is already a generation of young people whose only experience with sports is through a video game console – do we really need to take away any potential exercise these kids will ever have by giving them an electric mobility device to get to their job and another one to cruise the halls once they’ve gotten there?

Walking and riding a bike are environmentally friendly modes of transportation as well; the added benefit of these two modes of transportation is your personal health.  Our bodies are designed to move, not to be carried everywhere we go for the duration of our day.  You can’t achieve or maintain good health by never traveling or moving under your own power – if we continue to seek out methods of avoiding physical activity the obesity epidemic will continue to spiral out of control and soon there will be an entire generation of people who aren’t able to move without the assistance of some type of machine.

I’m in no way suggesting that the developers of Segway have caused the obesity epidemic, what I am saying is that there isn’t a whole heck of a lot of harm in actually getting off your butt and getting somewhere without some kind of assistance.  We spend enough time during the day trying not to move, we probably shouldn’t be spending what little free time we have in search of other methods of avoiding movement.

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About Jeff Wilson Jeff Wilson has been involved in some form of sports and athletic training for more than two decades: as an athlete, a trainer and a writer.

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