updated 3/20/2007 7:29:34 PM ET 2007-03-20T23:29:34

The new Dutch transportation minister ordered a safety review of Segways and said he hoped to eventually lift a ban on the self-balancing scooters in public places.

Segways have been banned from all public roads, bike paths and walkways in the Netherlands since Jan. 1.

Camiel Eurlings, who took office Feb. 22, said Tuesday he was "positive as a minister about innovations, but we're going to approach this carefully."

The Dutch ban on Segways arose from a decision by the country's Traffic Agency in November that classified them as mopeds. To be street-legal in the Netherlands, mopeds have to have brakes. Segways stop when the rider leans backward.

Segway Nederland director Piet Kruijt said he had hoped that Eurlings would direct police not to ticket people for using them while the scooters' status is still in question.

But Eurlings said he did not have the authority to do that, and ordered an independent testing agency to review the machine's safety first — a process expected to take six months.

Kruijt said previous safety reviews of the Segway have been carried out in other countries and led to legalization.

"There's no need to reinvent the wheel," he said.

Segways were approved for use in neighboring Belgium earlier this month, and a bill that would formally legalize them in Germany is pending.

In the United States, where the invention was first marketed in 2002, Segways are legal but have undergone two recalls to fix glitches that led to a handful of injuries.

Several hundred Segways have been sold in the Netherlands, Kruijt said. For the time being, they can only be used on private property.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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