SLCC Journalism student, Timothy Janssen uses a Segway personal transporter on and off campus
Janssen has often been approached about his Segway by fellow students. Many want to know what it is and why he uses it. He got a Segway for easier transportation in the community and it has changed his life.
“Instead of using my energy on something that is hard for me, I get to have a little fun with my Segway,” Janssen said. “It saves me a lot of time and it is a great conversation starter.”
Janssen was born in Romania. He was adopted as a baby and brought to the United States at age one. Janssen was born with mild Cerebral Palsy and has difficulty walking and balancing on his legs.
After graduating from Alta High School in 2009, Janssen spent his first year of college at Corban University, a small private Christian school in Salem, Oregon. He wanted to get a taste of being away and get a feel for college life.
“Chicks always ride for free”
“I have met a lot of people on and off campus just from their curiosity,” Janssen said. “Students ask me for rides. On campus students call me the mall cop. Chicks always ride for free. I have had a lot of fun with it.”
The Segway is a self -balancing scooter on two wheels. When stepped on, it automatically balances and acknowledges something is there. The Segway costs $4,000 to buy new. Janssen found his used in a warehouse in Colorado for $2,400.
“When you first step on the Segway, it’s going to be a little shaky if you’re not used to it,” Janssen said. “Just because it balances on its own doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention. I’ve had so much fun that I’ve crashed on it before.”
In the state of the Oregon, he had his first Segway crash in a parking lot
“I crashed into a parking block,” Janssen said. “The Segway was fine, but I wasn’t. It took the wind out of me and I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. The doctors thought my neck was broken. Luckily, that was a false alarm. The Segway is not meant for tricks, but I have had success taking it up and down the escalators at the mall before.”
The Segway has an electric charge and can travel up to six miles on a 12 hour charge. To charge it can be plugged into any wall outlet and when fully charged a smiley face appears on the handle bars. The top speed is 12 mph.
It has three different speeds: mild, medium and rocket
“The only bad thing about the Segway is that insurance is not provided with it,” Janssen said. “If something happens to it I would have to buy a new one with money from my own pocket.”
Janssen also has trouble hearing and often uses hearing aids. The Slcc Disability Resource Center provides him with an auditory training device for his classes. The auditory training device is a battery pack device that amplifies sound to better hear the teacher.
“The Disability Resource Center is great,” Janssen said. “I always have my doctor’s note for permission to take my Segway into classes, but the Disability Resource Center is also always there to make accommodations.”
Janssen has had problems in the past taking the Segway on public transportation systems
UTA buses and track stations would not allow the Segway on board.
“Many people had not seen anything like it before,” Janssen said. “I had to take it to the UTA headquarters to get it approved. I had to provide a doctor’s note and a pass by the UTA to take it on buses.”
Segway’s first appeared in 2001 when they were unveiled by Dean Kamen, inventor of the technology. Janssen owns the first invention, known as the Segway PT (Personal Transporter).
“The Segway has helped me tremendously physically and socially,” Janssen said. “I often wonder if my high school experience would have been different if I had the Segway back then.”