A tour of the Minneapolis, Minn., riverfront and such historic landmarks as the Stone Arch Bridge and the Mill City Museum can take a lot of time and shoe leather. But Bill and Emily Neuenschwander's tours can guide you through much of the city's history quickly, with a nod to the future: the mode of transportation is the Segway Human Transporter. The Neuenschwanders started offering tours via the scooter-like device this spring as a sideline to their computer-consulting business. Now they have a fleet of 21 Segways and are attracting 150 customers a week, who pay $69.95 for the three-hour tour. It starts with a quick safety and riding lesson for those who have never used a Segway, then covers five to seven miles of town, with running commentary via a radio on the handlebars. On a recent trip to Minneapolis, Katrina Patterson, 37, of San Jose, Calif., booked a tour for her family, including two young sons. "Because they were on a Segway, they actually listened," she says with a laugh. "It was the highlight of their trip."
Segway sightseeing is catching on around the world. David Mebane, 28, added a Segway tour to his repertoire of bike tours of Paris last year. It has been so successful that he now offers a similar tour of Nice and plans to expand into Chicago and New Orleans this summer. "The growth has been really quick and unbelievable," says Mebane. It's also not a bad bit of promotion for Segway, which has sold relatively few of the space-age transporters since introducing them in 2002. "Tour groups have definitely raised the awareness and familiarity people have with the Segway," says spokeswoman Carla Vallone.
--By Sarah Sturmon Dale