Should self-balancing scooters be allowed on the roads?

MonoRover R2 Electric MiniSelf-balancing scooters or ‘Hoverboards’ as they have been termed by the ‘Back to the Future’ loving public are currently illegal to ride on the roads. Despite the popularity of the product and the huge number of consumers who have got their hands on one! Police and governments alike are adamant that the self-transportation device is not safe to use on roads and could pose hazards to both the rider and other road users. In Britain, the law states the scooters are illegal to ride on the road because the vehicles do not actually meet the requirements needed to be able to be registered under the European or British schemes or road-legal vehicles. These restrictions have obviously annoyed and angered many self-balancing scooter users and it’s not surprising that the question of whether they should be allowed on roads or not has been raised.

Where is it legal to use self-balancing scooters?

Currently self-balancing scooters can be used on any private land providing that the permission of the land owner is retrieved. As you can imagine for many people this means that they are extremely restricted as to where they can use their scooter. If they live in a city, then it’s unlikely that they would have access to any land that would be suitable to have some fun with their scooter.

Argument for legalising road use of self-balancing scooters

Although these products may seem like a futuristic innovative invention, they are in fact the last in a long line of electronically powered self-transportation devices. On the streets and the roads of London other products such as this can be seen regularly in the form of the electric bicycle commonly termed at the ‘Boris Bike’. Tourists and natives alike love the humble ‘Boris Bike’ and they are literally everywhere. There are no regulations in place that rides should be wearing any protective equipment such as helmets and they can go wherever they want on them whether they are an accomplished bike rider or not. Surely this also poses a risk on the roads and could result in accidents for both riders and other road users. However, this does not stop the high level of use of the bikes and wide range of access that they have. Self-balancing scooters are a very similar thing so why should they not be granted the same privileges as the electric bicycle?

Argument against legalising road use of self-balancing scooters

One of the main arguments against legalising the road use of self-balancing scooters is unsurprisingly to do with safety. The technology used in the products requires the user to have excellent balance and control which must be exerted over the product at all times. One slip up and the consequences could be severe when on a busy road. On private land, a fall would not be so much of a problem and the rider would be back on in no time with just a few cuts and grazes to show for their mishap. However, when on a busy road, the rider would be extremely vulnerable to oncoming cars, buses and other vehicles. Another issue is the speed of the scooters. Different models run at different speeds but in the majority of cases they don’t go higher than 6 mph, and even the best self balancing scooters don’t go much faster. This is definitely going to pose a problem on fast moving roads as the users of the scooters will be dramatically slowing down traffic. Another issue to do with safety is the lack of personal protective equipment. Riders of motorbikes wear helmets and leathers to protect themselves so surely a self-balancing scooter rider should take the same precautions.

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