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Backstory: A natural Segway ...

The two-wheeled transporters are making inroads into everyday life - from fishing trips to weddings.

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As the bagpiper wheezed into full song, a hush fell over the meadow and guests turned in their folding chairs to watch the wedding party. Bruce Dickson, the silver-haired father of the bride, beamed in his honey-brown suit as he prepared to escort his daughter down the grassy aisle. But behind his smile, Dickson was feeling rising anxiety - and it had nothing to do with the groom. He just didn't want to hog the spotlight - fearing that if he walked arm in arm with his daughter, he'd roll over her dress and tear it apart.

As she approached, he leaned forward gently and his gray Segway inched toward her. They held hands and moved down the aisle - the beautiful bride and her father on the self-balancing human transporter.

The wedding is Mr. Dickson's favorite Segway memory.

A Washington lawyer, Dickson recently developed a neuromuscular disability that makes walking difficult. The Segway has replaced his wheelchair, and he uses it at home, at work, and around town. And like a growing number in the Segway subculture, he's used it as part of his everyday life - to dance at the wedding, fish near the Arctic Circle, to argue cases in court, and to give rides to his cockapoo, Pippi. He owns three Segways and his favorite is battered and dirty - a point of pride for heavy users.

"People are embarrassed by wheelchairs," he muses. "But they like [my Segway], they show interest in it."

The Segway, the enviro-happy machine unveiled to great hype in 2001 only to thud commercially, has made steady, if modest, inroads among early adopters, becoming the stuff of daily life for pockets of enthusiasts from coast to coast. It's used to commute, have fun and, in the case of Segway tour operators, make money.

Segway Inc. won't release sales figures, but Will Hopper, president of the users club SEG America, estimates there are 25,000 to 30,000 "seggers" nationwide, a fraction of the average ballpark crowd.This number doesn't include vehicles sold to police departments (officers look more approachable on Segs), research institutions, and other organizations.

"Today people are generally positive about it - kids think it's cool and seniors love it," he says.


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