It's Actually Illegal to Ride 'Hoverboard' Scooters on UK Streets

The Crown Prosecution Service says they’re not allowed on public roads or footpaths.

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Oct 12 2015, 12:10pm

Image: Ethan Hein/Flickr (cropped)

If you like the idea of cruising through the streets on a "hoverboard," there's bad news. The party-pooping UK Crown Prosecution Service has gone and killed the fun (or helped saved motorists and pedestrians) by clarifying that the "self-balancing scooters" are banned from both pavements and roads.

The electric, two-wheeled vehicles are the handle-less progeny of the older-generation segway scooter—the two-wheeled lawn mower-like vehicle which riders could steer manually. The hoverboards, sometimes known as swegways, are capable of speeds of 8 mph, and go just that bit faster the lighter you are.

But according to guidance from the UK Crown Prosecution Service, those speeds are too dangerous for hapless pedestrians sharing your pavement space, and too annoying for motorists on the roads.

The only place you can apparently legally use them is on "private property with the permission of the landowner."

The guidance was initially released for Segway scooters, which were banned from UK roads and pavements back in 2011. In a tweet, the Metropolitan Police Special Constabulary emphasised that this also applies to the hands-free, hoverboard-style gadgets, which are illegal on English and Welsh pavements and roads under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835. In Scotland, it's an offence under section 129(5) of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984. As they aren't licensed or registered under the European or British vehicle approval scheme, that rules out using them on roads too.

Motherboard reached out to the UK's Swegway—a hoverboard supplier—for comment, but they were unable to respond at the time of writing.

Hoverboards have recently experienced a boom in the market. But though the UK police are attempting to banish the scooters from roads and pavements, what regulatory challenges will they face when actual levitating hoverboards eventually hit the roads?