'Hoverboards' are illegal on British streets, authorities say

The two-wheeled ‘self-balancing scooters’ are only allowed on private land with the owners permission, the government has cautioned

Andrew Griffin
Monday 12 October 2015 11:10 BST

The “hoverboards” that have taken over streets all over the world are illegal to ride in public, the police have warned.

The small vehicles are made up of a platform with a wheel on either side, and are ridden like a Segway but without the stick for control. They can only be used on private property, according to new guidance from the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service.

The police refer to the hoverboards as “self-balancing scooters”. Authorities say that they count as vehicles, so are banned from the pavement, but they are too unsafe to drive on the road so can’t be taken there either.

“You can only ride an unregistered self-balancing scooter on land which is private property and with the landowner's permission,” according to the CPS website. “The Department for Transport would advise that appropriate safety clothing should be worn at all times.”

The scooters — variously known as hoverboards or swegways — have exploded in popularity over the last year or two. They have been pictured carrying footballers such as Mario Balotelli and dancers performing to Justin Bieber songs, as well as a controversial man who performed the tawaf on one, inside the Ka’bah at Mecca, Islam’s most sacred shrine. Wiz Khalifa is perhaps the most high-profile arrest for riding a hoverboard so far — the rapper and singer was wrestled to the floor in a Los Angeles airport, apparently for using one.

That increasing popularity led the Metropolitan Police to send out a warning over the weekend.

The guidance was initially issues to regulate normal Segways, which include a handlebar and are not allowed on the road either. For vehicles to go on the road they must pass a European test that is required of any vehicle that can go over 4mph, and the Department for Transport says that it “is not aware of any self-balancing scooters which have” the approval.

Pilgrim on hoverboard in Mecca

The CPS did not rule out pursuing prosecutions for people caught riding the hoverboards on the street. It said that it would pursue the same process as with any other crime — which would be referred to it by the police, when it would decide whether a prosecution should proceed.

The reminder comes just days before Back To The Future day, which falls on 21 October — the date that Marty McFly was transported forwards to in that film. Though the "hoverboards" aren't really hoverboards, since they're actually rolling on the ground, they were a way of giving humanity one of the few remaining predictions of the film that haven't yet come true.

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