Once again burnishing our progressive rep, California has officially made hoverboards legit. However, not everyone embraces this transportation revolution, as the new law which took effect January 1 that permits the use of the self-balanced scooters in bike lanes simultaneously prohibits their use on sidewalks. This has led to concerns that the comparatively slow-moving rides are a safety hazard and their use in bikes lanes could result in increased accidents.
In contrast to the speedier Boosted Board cruising the streets of SF, so-called hoverboards typically max out around 5 to 10 miles per hours — it is this lack of speed that has some worried.
“They are trying to make them go in bike lanes? That’s where it’s going to get dangerous,” skateboarder Jamal Morris told Mission Local. "I’m not hating on hoverboards," he continued, "but I heard they go like 5-10 miles an hour. They should make a lane for them on the sidewalk.”
Bike messenger Colby Goodman echoed those concerns, telling the publication that he sees hoverboard riders operate in a manner not fitted for the roadway. Although, he was quick to add, obliviousness is not limited to people perched atop the boards.
“I’ve seen a lot of people just kinda cruising with no regard to their surroundings, which is pretty common off and on those things.”
The new law does prohibit hoverboard use on city streets by those under 16 years old, however, so at least we won't soon be forced to swerve around hoverpacks of tweens. (The law also mandates helmet use for all riders, regardless of age).
There is a provision in Assembly Bill 604 which explicitly allows "local authorities" such as the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to further regulate the use of the self-balancing scooters, but Supervisor David Campos told Mission Local that the issue has yet to come up.
“This is the first I’ve heard of this,” he noted.