The self-balancing electric boards known as “hoverboards” have become wildly popular over the last few months in London — but might not be for much longer. The Metropolitan Police warned on Twitter that people using the devices are breaking the law.
In a tweet sent on Sunday night, the account MPS Specials warned that the device, as a “self-balancing scooter,” is “illegal” to ride in public.
The tweet links to “Segway Guidance From The Department of Transport.” Here’s a relevant section — emphasis ours:
1.”I have a self-balancing scooter and I want to ride in on the public road, is it legal for road use?”
No. Vehicles must be approved via ECWVTA or MSVA in order to be licensed and registered. Self-balancing scooters would not currently meet the requirements of these schemes so are not legal for road use.
2.”I have been riding a self-balancing scooter on the public footway (pavement) outside my house, have I committed an offence?”
Yes. It is an offence under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 to ride or drive a vehicle on the pavement. It is only an offence under this Act in England and Wales. In Scotland it is an offence under section 129(5) of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984.
In short, they’re not officially approved so can’t be used on roads, and as vehicles, they can’t be used on pavements either.
This guidance wasn’t drawn up in response to the hoverboard craze: The website they link to specifically discusses segways, another self-balancing electric vehicle. But MPS Specials is arguing that the same rules apply.
The Special Constabulary is also hitting back at claims that it has “banned” hoverboards:
So what will happen if you get caught? No-one has been arrested for hoverboard-riding in London yet, so it’s difficult to know for sure. But in 2011, a South Yorkshire man was fined by a district judge for riding his segway on the pavement. He had to pay £75, The Telegraph reported at the time — plus “£250 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.”