In the days leading up to the much anticipated Back To The Future day on the 21st October, the Met police issued a disappointing warning to owners of Swegway ‘hoverboards. Popularised by celebrities ranging from Nicole Scherzinger to Katy Perry to Brooklyn Beckham, consumers have been sadly told that Swegway boards are unfit for use on roads or pavements.
The Swegway – a modification on the iconic Segway – removes the handlebars, creating a balance board with wheels either side. The gadget is controlled by balance: simply step on and go by leaning forward or backwards, and steer by shifting weight to either leg, as with a traditional skateboard. In spite of the novelty factor, their popularity is on the rise as Christmas approaches, even with one cynical Guardian reviewer noting the fun of it all, as well as pointing out the positive environmental implications. With a rechargeable battery, these work out slightly faster than bikes and more green than buses or cars for shorter journeys.
However, in a warning released last week, the Metropolitan Police Service (@MPSSpecials) tweeted a photo of a hoverboard, with the caption “own one of these or thinking about getting one? They’re illegal to ride in public!” According to the CPS website, Swegways and their older counterparts are officially defined as motor vehicles, and as such require a license and insurance to be used on roads. As of yet there are no measures being introduced to license and insure hoverboards or Segways in the UK, the road remains off limits.
Public pathways are also a no-fly zone. The Highways Act of 1835 amusingly includes Swegways when forbidding citizens to “lead or drive any horse, ass, mule, sheep, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description” on a footway. An additional law states that, because the hoverboards (being a motor vehicle) can move at a speed of over 4mph, and not conforming to Class 2 or Class 3 mobility vehicles, they are unsafe.
Fortunately if you’re a landowner (or have the permission of one), there’s still some space to play. The Swegway can be ridden on private property with permission, so there’s still fun to be had, and there’s no restrictions on purchasing one in the UK – check out the selection at Librance for the best battery life. One of the newest crazes sweeping the US, Japan, and Europe is Swegway dance routines, with David Moore’s routine to Justin Bieber’s recent hit ‘What Do You Mean’ taking Youtube by storm.