Ontario ruling a Catch 22 for Segways

Wednesday, July 6, 2005 Updated at 11:38 PM EDT

Canadian Press

This article is from The Globe and Mail: Ontario ruling a Catch 22 for Segways and edmontonsun.com - Canada - Segway rider gets fine

Niagara Falls, Ont. — In what is believed to be a Canadian first, a Niagara Falls real estate agent has been ticketed and fined for driving a two-wheeled battery-powered scooter on a public street.

Pierre Lefeuvre, 54, made headlines last fall after he was charged with failing to have a licence and insurance for riding his Segway Human Transporter along a city street.

Mr. Lefeuvre took his battle to provincial offences court Wednesday, claiming the high-tech gadget that can move at speeds up to 20 kilometres an hour, isn't a motor vehicle, and thereby didn't require a licence or insurance.

Justice of the peace Santino Spadafora dismissed his claim, saying Segways fall under the Highway Traffic Act's definition of a motor vehicle and that police were justified in filing the charges.

“They are motor vehicles and subject to the laws under the Highway Traffic Act,” Justice Spadafora said, before imposing a $90 fine for failing to have a licence plate on the vehicle.

Charges of failing to have insurance and making an improper left turn were stayed.

Mr. Lefeuvre argued he had tried unsuccessfully to get insurance and a licence for the machine.

“I tried everything. I talked to a lot of people,” he said.

At the local licence bureau, he was told Transport Canada didn't consider the device a vehicle and would not issue plates and his insurance broker couldn't find an insurance company that would provide liability insurance for the device.

“My client has done everything possible to get plates for this device, and insurance, and has been refused,” defence counsel Morley Kitchen told court.

“When a person is charged with not having plates or insurance, there's a logical inference they can be obtained in the first place. How can you convict someone on something they can't obtain?”

Crown prosecutor Anne Swayze argued Segways fall under the definition of motor vehicle under the traffic act.

According to the Ministry of Transportation, however, the device does not meet Ontario's equipment safety standards for on-road use. They can only be operated where the act does not apply, such as on private property.

Mr. Lefeuvre was charged last Sept. 5.

Mr. Lefeuvre described the upright scooter as a personal assistive device, similar to that of a wheelchair, which does not require plates or insurance.

“I use it to run errands and to go see people,” he said.