HAVING LONG HELD A PLACE America's heart for its endearing 1950s nerdiness (you gotta love those hats), the National Park Service will select a group of its rangers to look a tad dorkier this April when they start tooling around on Segway Human Transportersthose much-hyped self-balancing scooters, also known as "Ginger," unveiled late last year by inventor Dean Kamen.
As part of a field test run jointly by the Park Service and Segway, rangers are scheduled to spend two weeks trying out nine of the Jetsonsesque gadgets in two as-yet-unselected national parks, to figure out if Segways offer a no-emissions, short-hop alternative to pickup trucks. Tourists can no doubt imagine more thrilling useslike buzzing the rim of the Grand Canyon, no walking required. But the machines will be strictly off-limits to park visitors. "There's no way we could allow these things on our trails," says NPS transportation guru Lou DeLorme, who's overseeing the test run. "People would get hurt."