Is that a Segway on Broadway?

If you'd expect a contingent of segways meandering along Broadway in Jim Thorpe to stop people in their tracks, you'd be surprised.

It turns out to be the other way around.

During these summer months, Broadway in Jim Thorpe is brimming with tourists from various megapolises where the two-wheeled electric motor-driven gyroscopically-balanced personal transport has already become popular. So popular, especially as a police scooter in touristy venues, that more than once the segway procession was stopped by a confused out-of-towner asking for directions, thinking the segway riders were traffic cops.

Looking less like traffic officers is only a minor startup bug that Dante Mariano of Pocono Segway Tours is learning about as he opens his segway touring business at Pocono Whitewater's Adventure Central in the Jim Thorpe Historic District. From this location, PCT has begun leading 45-minute to one-hour tours to both the Historic District and the new Lehigh Gorge Trail spur heading north from Jim Thorpe.

On Wednesday, Aug. 18, Mariano began offering the first segway trips, a combination of both the Gorge and the Downtown, with three segways. By Friday, he had the full complement of seven units.

The segways, which are powered by lithium ion batteries, have a range of 24 miles on a full charge. This allows a trip to the Lehigh Gorge Trail to the Nesquehoning Junction Bridge, a walk over the bridge (the State Park has not authorized the units on park property), a return to the downtown area, a ride up and down Broadway, and if time allows, an uphill climb to the Asa Packer Mansion.

"Pocono Segway Tours started at Split Rock Lodge," explained Mariano. "The owner, Dennis Rogers, went on a honeymoon to Bermuda where he took a Segway tour on the island. He was so impressed and happy with it, that when he returned, he decided to start offering guided segway tours in the Poconos, initially out of Split Rock Resort, then we branched out to Fernwood, and now Jim Thorpe.

"We formed a business alliance with Paul Fogal, an owner of Pocono Whitewater," Mariano continued. "We plan on offering three tours: a town tour, a Lehigh Gorge tour, and a combination tour. We are in negotiations with the Lehigh Gorge State Park.

"The town tour is a 45-minute tour of the downtown Historic District showing the major attractions. We stop at the Opera House, the Mauch Chunk Museum, the Old Jail, the Asa Packer Mansion, restaurants and the Big Creek Winery – about 4.5 miles.

"It's intended as an overview for new tourists to help them plan their day. We ride on the sidewalks where feasible, avoiding potholes and drainage ditches. We wear reflective vests and helmets."

After signing a waiver and receiving a helmet, new segway riders are given an introductory lesson by Mariano. Each rider is given a pendant containing a remote control for the segway. In addition to turning the unit on and off, it is used to change speed modes from the slower beginner level, called Turtle Mode, to full speed. It also serves as a safety device, turning off the segway if the rider becomes separated from the unit.

After practicing to go forward by weight shifting to the toes, and turning-by inclining the steering bar to the side, Mariano is ready to begin the tour. Within the Historic District, he leads the segways single file on the sidewalks, excepting where ruts in the pavement force the units to ride in the street. Mariano suggests that these personal transports be considered in the same class as motorized wheelchairs, but that determination may vary by locality.

Pocono Segway Tours plans to be open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., occasionally to 8 p.m., until the first snowfall. Reservations are recommended, although walk-ins are accommodated when possible.

For additional information, see: poconosegwaytours.com or call: 1-888-734-9299.