The Segway PT (for "personal transporter") was developed by inventor Dean Kamen and introduced six years ago as the new way to get around urban areas. Kamen discovered that most commuter car trips were less than five miles and designed the Segway to be that item to mitigate them.
A Segway glider - they don't like to be called "drivers" - stands on a slight step up and leans forward, back and side to side to steer the two-wheeled machine, while gyroscopes and computers make it go up to about 12 mph.
The Barrows tried out Segways three years ago on vacation in Santa Monica, Calif., tootling along the paved path on a Pacific Ocean beach.
"What a great thing to bring to the Jersey Shore, we thought," said Barrow, who has a home in Ventnor. They opened Ride N Glide last summer and now claim to brighten the Ventnor and Atlantic City daily from spring through fall.
"It's not only people who ride Segways, but everyone you go past gets a smile out of it," said Barrow. "No one can resist."
Atlantic City has banned Segways on its segment of the Boardwalk and along the busiest streets downtown, but that hasn't slowed Ride N Glide's business, said Barrow. She leads tours of up to six people either through Ventnor, starting at the Dorset Avenue Bridge, or around Atlantic City starting from Gardner's Basin. The two-hour Ventnor glide is $69, while the 90-minute scurry out of Gardner's Basin is $50. A 10-minute quickie is $10.
Barrow preps every glider with a short, introductory lesson on the Segway and then equips the glider with a helmet and, she insists, a big smile.
"It doesn't take long to learn how to do it and we're off," she said. Gliders get to choose between red, yellow and blue Segways, each with kickstand and an "ooo-ooo-gah" horn. (Ride N Glide only rents Segways, which cost $5,000.)
The Ventnor glide goes down that town's section of the Boardwalk (but only during Boardwalk biking hours: before noon every day, 4-7 p.m. on weekdays). The journey continues along the bay, stopping at a couple of parks, and winds through the resort's streets, mostly to look at beautiful houses.
"It's not like we stop at famous people's houses or anything," she said. "I just point out homes and gardens. It's a lovely little trip."
The glides out of Gardner's Basin go along the basin and through the northern part of Atlantic City, finishing up at the Absecon Lighthouse - "a little bit of history," said Barrow.
"And you are guaranteed to leave here the way you should at the Shore," Barrow promised. "With that big smile." *
Ride N Glide Atlantic City Segway Tours, 133 Dorset Ave., Ventnor, 609-823-3232, www.ridenglide.com. Gliders must be 18 to go alone, or 16 with a parent.