Dutch to ease ban on self-balancing Segway scooter

A group of tourists take in the sights of Washington aboard Segways as they participate in a guided tour of the nation's capital in this August 3, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Jason Reed

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands is to relax its ban on the Segway motorized scooter, a two-wheeled, gyroscopically-balanced machine of which U.S. President George W. Bush is a fan.

“The general use of the Segway will be allowed on bicycle paths and roads under the condition that a maximum speed of 25 km per hour will be kept to,” the Dutch government said in a statement.

The electric scooter is currently banned on public streets in the Netherlands and many other European countries have placed restrictions on the use of the machine because of safety fears.

Bush was famously captured on film falling off his Segway and a number of U.S. cities ban the scooter from sidewalks.

Introduced in 2001 in a blaze of publicity the machine, which sells for between $5,000 to $6,000, is a rare sight in most places and is mainly used by police or tourists in Europe.

The Dutch authorities said all Segway users must be 16 or older and must be insured when the ban eases from this summer. The government said it had not yet decided on whether the machine, which moves when the rider leans forward or backwards, will need to have license plates or some other form of identification.

Disabled persons will be able to use the Segway on pavements up to a maximum speed of 6 kph.

Reporting by Reed Stevenson; Editing by Matthew Jones