‘Hurricane’ hopes to make waves on Island

Man rides Segway electric vehicle 500 km in attempt to set world record, change B.C. law

HURRICANE RIDES INTO TOWN: Danny “The Hurricane” Halmo stops with support driver Bruce Rathwell in Parksville Wednesday during his attempt to set a Guinness World Record riding his Segway on Vancouver Island. See story at www.pqbnews.com or in the Tuesday

Whatever else can be said of Danny “The Hurricane” Halmo, you have to admit he’s a stand-up guy.

Over the past week, the 57-year-old from Delta has been standing atop a Segway, a two-wheeled, upright electric vehicle, in an effort to set a Guinness World Record — and making them legal to ride on B.C.’s public streets.

On Wednesday, he rolled through Parksville on a 500-kilometre ride that began on Salt Spring Island and took him to Campbell River before a return south to finish up at the legislature in Victoria.

“We’ll go to Campbell River Friday, then meander back until I end up at (Premier) Christy Clark’s office to hand over a petition to make this legal here,” said Halmo, garbed in a star-spangled helmet and blue-and-red “Captain America” styled costume.

“The Segway is not legal to ride in B.C., but it is legal in Ontario,” he added. “The law is out there; it’s written. We just need to take it and apply it here.”

Even without a costumed-crusader aboard, the Segway is an eye-catching mode of transportation. Halmo drew stares and double-takes from pedestrians, drivers and even residents watching through windows Wednesday as he cruised through Parksville.

The machine consists of a small standing platform atop two large wheels, with a single post supporting handlebars. It is propelled by simply leaning forward — and the steeper the lean, the faster the speed. The 112-pound vehicle tops out at 17 kilometres per hour, the same speed as the mobility scooters which are allowed on roads in B.C., he said.

“This is much safer than a mobility scooter,” he said. “I’m seven feet tall on that Segway; everybody sees me coming.”

Perhaps best of all, he said, the Segway costs just 56 cents to fully charge and will travel 40 kilometres on a full battery.

Halmo, who is on full disability with a bi-polar disorder, has devoted his life to electric-powered transportation and is the founder of the Formula Electric Vehicle Entertainment and Racing Association (FEVER). He set two previous Guinness World Records on an electric bicycle and in an electric car, and has a third pending for a 24-hour Segway challenge during which he covered 214 kilometres.

“FEVER exists to set Guinness records in electric vehicles,” he said. “I want to set up Canada as the country to beat. I’ll set the record and let the rest of the world catch up. By the time they do, I’m out setting new records.”

Canada already has the world’s longest free electric highway, courtesy of electric vehicle (EV) chargers installed by Sun Country Highways from St. John, N.L., to Port Hardy.

Halmo is being accompanied this week by an all-electric Chevy Volt support vehicle, driven by Sun Country’s Bruce Rathwell. That support vehicle is what allows him to legally drive the Segway on the road, Halmo said.

In addition to setting records, Halmo draws attention to the EV cause through his outrageous costuming and stunts, combined with intensive media relations. After this week’s 500-km ride and petition drive, he said, he will appear on CBC’s The Early Edition in Vancouver in a commuter challenge pitting the Segway against an automobile, a bicycle, and a bus/Sky Train commuter.

“I can go from my bed to my office desk without getting off the Segway,” said Halmo, who demonstrated the Segway’s indoor-outdoor capabilities by driving it right into the office of The NEWS.

Of course, Halmo doesn’t actually have an office; he works seasonally at a Christmas tree farm. And he doesn’t own a Segway of his own — he was provided two of the vehicles for his current record attempt by Mike and Corrine Bessler of Nanaimo’s Ride the Glide Tours.

Having already earned sponsorship from Segway Canada for his promotional efforts, though, Halmo is working to change both of those situations.

“I get one (Segway) when I break the record, and I get another one when I change the law,” he said. “When I’m finished with this, they’ll make me director of marketing.”

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