Segway tours racing into Golden Gate Park

Forty Segways are coming to the most popular destination spot in Golden Gate Park.

At its regular meeting Thursday, the Recreation and Park Commission unanimously decided to allow San Francisco Electric Tour Co. to operate its tour groups — helmets included — from behind the Music Concourse.

Ultimately, packs of eight people traveling upright on the two-wheel scooters at a whopping 6 mph will motor around some of Golden Gate Park’s most desirable sights — the de Young Museum, California Academy of Sciences, Rose Garden, Stow Lake and other spots.

Electric Tour already operates in The City and Sausalito. Several supporters within the tourism industry vouched for the firm to Rec and Park commissioners.

Commission President Mark Buell said he already took a tour and was “very impressed with the whole experience.”

But because it’s happening on government property, there are different rules.

Adult riders must have valid driver’s licenses and no one under 13 years old or weighing less than 70 pounds is allowed. Riders cannot speed or wander off on their own. They must go through a 30-minute training session beforehand, Electric Tour President Brian Huber said.

Before the commission made its decision, Friends of the Music Concourse representative Kathy Howard asked that since the concourse is a landmark, the Historic Preservation Commission must grant permission for any additions or alterations. She suggested that any kiosk or storage device behind it could potentially violate city code.

Rec and Park spokeswoman Sarah Ballard said the Segway tours are such a remote operation and can be picked up within 24 hours that she didn’t see it getting in the way.

Next, the Recreation and Park Department has to approve the final lease, which is projected to bring in about $79,000 in the first year and about $115,200 by year five.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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