Touring the historic sites of Philadelphia on wheels

PHILADELPHIA - July 30, 2013

No problem! Segway Tours lets you roll through at 12 miles per hour, stopping when it's relevant or just listening to your guide tell you about other attractions as you roll past.

The tour company operates in a handful of cities now...most prominent in Philadelphia but a growing force in San Diego. And they're talking about New York City.

You sign up for the tours at the Independence Visitors Center at 6th and Market, opposite the Liberty Bell. Before even touching a Segway, you watch a video. Then the participants go downstairs to a garage, where the company has a roped-off section for hands-on training.

First, your tour guide shows you what to do, then you get to do it. Finally, you roll around the isolated portion of the garage.

At that point, you can opt out if you're not comfortable, but very few do. Then you're off on the tour. Each group is led by a guide who's trained in city history and narrates as you go.

Helmets all participants wear are fitted with wireless technology so you hear the narratives, whether you're rolling past something of casual interest or stopping at a major attraction like Independence Hall. The basic tour, in the afternoon, covers the historic district.

A longer tour, offered in the morning, takes you through all that and rolls to other sights as far away as the Art Museum and the Schuylkill River trail. That lasts three hours and costs more.

A Segway is pretty intuitive. You lean forward to move ahead, and can back up by leaning slightly backwards...something that's not recommended. To turn left or right you simply move the handle you're already holding onto. As you probably know, the Segway is self-balancing.

The tour company adheres to the manufacturer's recommendations, so no one under 14 may operate one. There is no upper limit on age. And there's a maximum weight capacity of 260 pounds.

The tours are provided by Wheel Fun Rentals, which is also a major bicycle rental company in the tourist district.

For information or reservations, access their website at Segway Tours by Wheel Fun or phone 215-523-5827.

Gift certificates and group discounts are available. Promotional coupons may save you money, and all tours cost less on weekdays.

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