UK Bans Hoverboards But Seriously Stop Calling Them Hoverboards

UK Bans Hoverboards But Seriously Stop Calling Them Hoverboards

British police reminded the public yesterday that it’s illegal to ride “one of these” in public. And by “one of these,” the fuzz means self-balancing scooters. That didn’t stop the press from calling the heeled contraptions “hoverboards.” Ugh!

Misnomer aside, the warning raises an interesting question about how this newly affordable and entirely futuristic form of transportation ought to be regulated. The Metropolitan Police pointed to the section 72 of the United Kingdom’s Highway Act 1835 which categorizes “personal transporters” like Segways “as motor vehicles, subject to road traffic laws.” That means you need a licence and registration to ride one on public roads. That also means you can’t ride the zippy little things on footpaths. This makes sense, since the self-balancing vehicles usually scare the crap out of pedestrians.

Despite the fact that British law correctly refers to these devices as “transporters” — a badass name if I’ve ever seen one — everyone still insists on calling them hoverboards. Here’s a sampling of headlines:

Oh brother. We’ve said it before but let’s say it again: They’re not hoverboards. The word “hoverboard” implies a board that hovers. Actual hoverboards actually exist, but you’re almost definitely not going to see any teens zooming down the footpath on one, Marty McFly-style.

This new application of the self-balancing technology Segway made famous is obviously popular. Even burglars want a piece of the action. Can we all agree on the name “transporter,” though? It’s not inaccurate like the word hoverboard, and it’s wonderfully futuristic. No matter what, though, don’t go riding your transporter down a London high street. It’s against the law.

[Metropolitan Police via WSJ]

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