THE BLOG

Hoverboards Might Look Stupid, But Banning Them Is About as Sensible as Banning the Bicycle

31/12/2015 16:45 GMT | Updated 31/12/2016 10:12 GMT

The hoverboard is not a cool gadget. No matter what anyone tells you, there is absolutely nothing dignified or solemn about mysteriously lurching towards someone with that smug expression plastered across your face.

If you're lucky you'll travel the distance without falling off, the hoverboard exploding or more recently, being arrested.

hoverboard

It is then, a work in progress.

That doesn't mean it's a failure, or indeed a danger to the world. Hoverboards, by which of course I mean those personal mobility boards that cruelly don't actually hover, are legitimately good ways of getting around.

They're not overly fast and they seem to be one of the few pieces of technology not utterly crippled by battery limitations. A properly made and officially licensed hoverboard will take you well over 10 miles without running out of power or setting you on fire.

That's more than enough for most people's commute.

Banning them then to me, seems at worst utterly moronic and at best a stop gap before they inevitably become legalised and regulated like any other form of personal vehicle.

Take a look at the humble bicycle for example. Invented in the mid 1800s, the bicycle was a fast and cheap new alternative to taking a horse or using your legs.

It could move at speeds that you never though possible and could carry far more than you ever could over large distances.

Who could have possibly hated the bicycle? Well turns out quite a lot of people did.

Just look at poor old Kirkpatrick Macmillan, widely believed to be the inventor of the pedal bicycle in 1839.

penny farthing

Macmillan was, just four years after creating his miraculous gadget, reportedly fined by Glasgow's local constabulary after he was caught riding a "velocipede of ingenious design" which had knocked over a poor little girl.

No doubt from then on there were plenty more incidents surrounding bicycles, and it wasn't until 1888 when the government finally set out the rights of British cyclists.

For 40 years prior though local councils had the right to ban bicycles entirely as 'nuisances'.

What have we learnt from this then? That we are, as a nation, catastrophically stubborn when it comes to social change.

Like smartwatches, hoverboards currently are too embarrassing to be of any real use in the real world.

When we finally stop worrying about how idiotic we all look though we should be able to take to the streets with a legally binding and regulated set of laws backing us up.

Would I ever ride a hoverboard to work? Absolutely not, but that doesn't mean the early adopter shouldn't be able to ride his or her hoverboard, even if it does mean a man with a red flag has to walk slowly in front of them.

locomotive act