Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Fort Lauderdale: The Segway

One of the more peculiar sights of Fort Lauderdale has to be the Segway Police. Forget the animal cruelty of horseback, the doughnut laden car or the gas guzzling mighty beat motorbike; times have changes, it’s environmentally friendly staged across two wheels with a maximum speed of 12.5 miles per hour – let me introduce to you The Segway.

The Segway has slowly been emerging as a favourite new vehicle across the world in recent years and the Americans seem to be taking it very seriously – so too the tourist market. Throughout Fort Lauderdale these funky machines can be found; especially in Hugh Taylor Birch State Park; this protected reserve was the escape of Chicago attorney, Hugh Taylor Birch, in 1893, by 1940 at age 90 he donated his 180-acre estate to be used as a public park to preserve the subtropical paradise within a bustling and growing city. His art-deco-style home, Terramar, still stands on one of two original sand dunes in the area; the rest of the city was dug out from the massive waterway system of the river.

M Cruz Rentals in Hugh Taylor Birch State Park has a selection of the generation 4 and generation 3 models – little difference except the steering. If you haven’t ridden one before it will take you at least 5 minutes to get used to it. First it’s all about balance, then it’s all about control. For me the experience was like handling a pogo stick but once I had the knack I was cranking the Segway up to its full 12.5 mph and doing a few spins on the spot – however I was the first and only person to be too confident to then go flying into a nest of trees, head first! I even have video proof.

The tour will take you through the nature reserve, observing a selection of birds and tortoises along the way as well as incredible specimens of plants trees. In 2007 the area was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina which sliced the heads of many small trees leaving a much more exposed habitat. Multimillion-dollar properties lie just beyond the reserve and a ride along the beach exposes the full brutality of the midday sun hammering the golden coastline cooled by the gentle ripples of the azure blue Pacific Ocean.

This is a highly recommended afternoon activity for two or a group of you. It is great fun and you feel the freedom as the wind blows through your hair.

M Cruz Rentals offers to rent: Segways, Bikes, Canoes, (954) 235 5082, www.mcruzrentals.com (Segway tours run 10am, 12pm, 2pm,4pm 365 days a year)

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, South East Florida,  - paradise in urban Fort Lauderdale, www.floridastateparks.org Open 8am til sunset, 365 days a year. Entrance fee required.