Court upholds Segway ban

The vehicles were popular with tourists until the end of 2016

The saga of Segways in Prague still has not ended. The former operators of Segway rentals failed again to have the ban in parts of the city overturned, but they promise to continue to fight.

Segways had been ubiquitous in the city center for several years until the end of 2016, when a ban took effect. Segways had been blamed for blocking narrow sidewalks and also for being unsafe and causing damage, as people sometimes lost control of them.

The Prague Municipal Court for the second time dismissed a case brought by an association of Segway operators. The operators objected to the location of the signs prohibiting Segways from entering historical sites.

"The court considers it quite rational and reasonable that the movement of these vehicles on pavements was limited in the busiest parts of Prague," Justice Eva Pechova said.

The Segway association’s lawyer, Pavel Říčka, said he would file another complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court (NSS).

The road to banning Segways was quite complicated, as the law originally defined the two-wheeled people movers as pedestrians. The country’s Road Transport Act had to be modified to make them vehicles. Then they could be banned. Prague passed a law allowing city districts to ban them, but warning signs had to be put in place.

Segway operators claims that the city should have enforced existing rules to clean up the Segway problem by limiting Segways to bike paths or designated roads. They say that changing the law to single out Segways and outright ban them from large areas was an act of malevolence.

In 2017, the Municipal Court stated that the Prague ban was in order, and overturning it should be an issue for the Constitutional Court, and not the Municipal Court.

The Supreme Administrative Court disagreed with that ruling, and sent the case back to the Municipal Court for reconsideration with new guidance. The Municipal Court, after looking at the case again, sided with the city and upheld the ban.

Aside from Prague 1, which covers most of the historical area, the ban has been expanded to parts of Prague 2, most of Žižkov in Prague 3, Letná and parts of Prague 7, Karlín in Prague 8, part of Smíchov in Prague 5 and most of Prague 4, and part of Prague 10.

The ban was supposed to start in July 2016, but was delayed until December 2016 when signs were finally put in place.

After the ban, Segways were quickly replaced with scooters and electric bikes, which have also been a cause of complaints but so far have been allowed in most areas.
Beer bikes, which have multiple people pedaling while drinking, are likely to face the same fate as Segways, however, as they block traffic.

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