Segway tour business would let visitors roll through New London history

New London - Make way for the Segway.

Dawn and Kristin Harkness of New London want to open a Segway tour business in downtown to bring the city's historic buildings closer together for tourists.

Dawn Harkness has written to the city, outlining the "very early stages" of plans to open such a business in March.

"... we are grateful for the opportunity to discuss our ideas with our city government in the hopes we can make it beneficial to all," Dawn Harkness wrote in an email to Ned Hammond, the city's economic development coordinator.

Harkness is expected to talk to the City Council tonight as Hammond presents a proposed ordinance that would allow "electronic assistive mobility devices," otherwise know at Segways, on city streets and spell out rules for operating commercial tours.

The Harknesses envision a touring company that would bring visitors all over town, from Riverside Park to the Shaw Mansion and along Whale Oil Row, State and Bank streets and Waterfront Park. Segways also could go to Fort Trumbull State Park, the Eugene O'Neill homestead and New London Harbor Light on Pequot Avenue and Ocean Beach Park.

Guides would lead three to eight sightseers on tours across the city. The Segways would share sidewalks with pedestrians, who would have the right-of-way on all sidewalks and crosswalks.

The proposed ordinance includes an application fee of $100 for a three-year license. The police department would review the application and issue the license, and the city would have to approve any tour routes. The company would need to be insured and riders would sign liability waivers.

Segway riders would have to be at least 12 years old and would be required to wear a reflective vest and helmet.

The proposed ordinance, which will mostly likely be sent to committee for further discussion, also includes $100 fines for those who violate any of the provisions in the ordinance.

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