Segway Tour Company Rolls Into Little Rock

There's a new way to tour the capital city on two wheels thanks to Segway of Arkansas, which opened mid-July in the River Market District at 404 E. Third St.

Owners Nez and Valerie Erkman of Little Rock first got the idea for the full-service sales, service and touring company when Nez looked into purchasing a Segway for his personal use, but with basic units starting at $6,200, his wife, Valerie, suggested he at least try it out before making the purchase. On a trip to Tulsa they gave it a go and found out how much fun catching a breeze at a top speed of 12.5 mph on the self-balancing electric personal transporters can be.

When timing and opportunity came together, they quickly made the decision to undertake the venture. Finding a location, Valerie Erkman said, was the biggest challenge because of limited retail space in the River Market District. But with the help of their leasing agent, Wes Lacewell of Moses Tucker Real Estate, they found a 320-SF space in the garage shops across the street from Dugan's Pub just large enough to house the 20 Segways they initially purchased to start the business and for a group to watch a safety video on a flat-screen TV hanging on one wall and pick out a helmet on another.

Nez guides the tours, which can be customized, but generally roll by the headquarters of Heifer International and the Clinton Presidential Park, making a stop on the pedestrian bridge for a photo, and then moves on to the Bill Clark Wetlands, Riverfront Park and beyond. Each rider is outfitted with a headset, so Nez can warn of any impending hazards, point out features and communicate area history.

Each tour begins with a 30-minute orientation that includes the safety video and a chance for riders to become accustomed to the Segway before setting off to tour the area. A 75-minute tour is $39 and a two-hour tour costs $59. To just try it out for 10 minutes customers can pay $10, which can be applied to the cost of a tour if they decide to give it a whirl.

"It's the most fun way to see the city," Valerie said. "After riding one you'll ask yourself, why would I even walk anywhere?"

Group tours can be arranged for a maximum of 10 people, and riders must be at least 14 years old and weigh between 100 and 260 pounds. Vehicles can also be rented for parties and special events.

Segway of Arkansas is open 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. For more information or to schedule a tour, call (501) 372-3200.