Tokyu Corp. and Segway Japan Ltd. launched trial outings on the wheeled devices Tuesday in Tokyo’s Futako-Tamagawa area — the first such Segway tours in the capital.

The tour consists of a 5.8-km ride around the Futako-Tamagawa Rise shopping and office complex and along the Tama River on one of the two-wheeled self-balancing electric vehicles.

“We are happy to have this opportunity and to be supported by Tokyu and Setagaya Ward residents,” said Hiroshi Otsuka, president of Segway Japan. “We hope to make innovations in personal mobility here, while keeping an eye on safety.”

Currently, the trial tour is only open to local residents and those involved in the project, but the two firms hope to make it available to the general public in the summer. Users must have a regular car or motorcycle driver’s licence.

Tokyu and Segway plan to charge participants, though the fee is yet to be decided.

While Segway tours are offered in many cities around the world, this is the first in Tokyo. Japan’s strict regulations had essentially banned the use of such vehicles on public roads except for in special government-designated zones.

Segway Japan has run similar tours for the past four years or so in a special zone in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Last summer the government eased its regulations, allowing the devices to use public roads if organizers get permission from the police.

“We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries from municipalities wondering how they can get permission to use these vehicles,” Otsuka said.

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