- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2007

Megan McCoy really knows how to stand out from the crowd. When the 6-foot D.C. tour guide steps on her Segway she towers over the street at 6 feet 6 inches.

Ms. McCoy, who started working for City Segway Tours three years ago, said she has been on cloud nine ever since.

“All my friends are envious of my job,” said the 21-year-old political science major at American University.

“I like this job because I’m not chained to a desk, the flexibility is awesome, plus you get to meet different people from around the world.”

The Wallingford, Conn., native first saw a Segway tour when she was working at the National Gallery of Art.

“We would always see these Segways rolling by, and I thought to myself, now that is a cool job.”

City Segway Tours offers three tours to a small number of riders every day at $70 per person.

Segway jockeys such as Ms. McCoy are paid $20 per hour, and $30 per hour for private tours.

“Sometimes we will get tips, which are always nice,” said Ms. McCoy.

Not just anyone can work for City Segway tours. Ms. McCoy had to take a test to earn her tour guide license, and she is constantly reading up on D.C. history to make sure she can answer all her client’s questions.

“Megan is superintelligent,” said Donsanell Nash, a manager at City Segway Tours.

“She really knows the historical facts back and forth and she infuses her tours with nice little jokes that give her customers a personal experience.”

The City Segway Tour operates from April 1 to Nov. 30, and covers a seven-mile loop around Independence Avenue.

The four-hour tour begins in front of the Willard InterContinental Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest and passes the White House, the Lincoln, Korean and Vietnam memorials.

Ms. McCoy spends the first 45 minutes of each tour teaching her clients how to use a Segway and making sure that they are comfortable with the $4,500 machines.

Segways contain gyroscopes and a computer in its base that calculates how a rider’s body weight shifts.

To go forward you lean on your toes, to slow down you shift your weight to your heels, and to turn left or right you adjust a knob on the handlebar.

Most riders on the tour are first timers like Beth and Bill Lipton, a couple from Ann Arbor Mich.

“These are so much fun, and Megan has been a great guide,” said Mrs. Lipton. “We used to live in Washington, but we’ve never gotten to see the city like this.”

Other tourists like Toni Seaman are Segway veterans, who have been itching to ride again.

“I had my first Segway tour in Paris in 2005, and there is nothing cooler than using your Segway in front of the Eiffel Tower.”

City Segway Tours also has operations in Chicago, Atlanta, and is planning tours in San Diego and San Francisco.

“The best thing is the attention we get on the street,” said Ms. McCoy.

Because the futuristic Segways are still a bit of a novelty, pedestrians and even other tourists will stare and take pictures of Ms. McCoy and her tour.

Ms. McCoy said she enjoys being a Segway celebrity. Sometimes she likes to show off and ride with no hands or even backwards.

But in this job you can end up with a few some scratches and bruises.

“One time I was showing off on a night tour and I flipped over the handle bars and hit the pavement.”

Ms. McCoy said she didn’t break anything and only suffered a bruised ego.

“I thought to myself, well there goes my street cred.”

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