In New York City, it is illegal to ride on a hoverboard, arguably one of the most talked about gadgets of the year. However, according to NBC New York, politicians have proposed a new law that would regulate where and when hoverboards could be used.
The politicians argued at City Hall on Tuesday that it should be legal to ride these devices and claim they are no different than a skateboard.
“NYPD has a lot of work they need to do,” said Councilman Andy King (D-Bronx). “The last thing they should be worrying about is young kids riding on hoverboards.”
The New York Times has reported that State Senator Jesse Peralta (D-Queens) has been a vocal supporter of the hoverboard ban being lifted. He even has ridden one himself, although nervously. At City Hall, he spoke about the issue of people owning hoverboards, but not having a place to ride it, where they won’t get in trouble.
“We need to regulate these hoverboards so people can ride them in a safe manner,” said Peralta.
On the same day, Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Queens) introduced the bill that would make hoverboards legal in all five boroughs, as reported by the New York Daily News. Weprin’s legislation is said to have mirrored a bill already introduced in the Senate to legalize the gadgets.
At this time in the current law, they are classified as motor vehicles and cannot be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), thus making them illegal to use.
“You will probably not see me on one anytime soon,” said Weprin, at a press conference to announce the bill. “But that doesn’t mean that I would want to prevent my constituents — especially the younger ones — from enjoying this… recreation.”
According to the website The Verge, this legislation would help clear up a discrepancy which allows the buying and selling of hoverboards in New York, but legally prevents them from being ridden. Not many details have been released by the politicians, but the legislation makes it clear that it “won’t mean free rein.”
“It is our aim to revise the traffic law to allow for the use of hover boards and electric unicycles in limited spaces,” said Andy King.
While the NYPD confirmed the ban in a November CNN Money article, they refused to answer any questions on how they would enforce the law.
Werprin and other politicians shared their views about hoverboards on social media.
— David Weprin (@DavidWeprin) December 29, 2015
However, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton thinks that the gadgets are unsuitable for New York City.
“To be quite frank with you, I think anybody who rides these things is out of [their] minds,” said Bratton, who criticized the gadgets at a different event.
Bratton continued, “We live in an extraordinarily crowded city; you have a hard enough time walking down the streets, let alone hovering.”
In a November report by CNN Money, hoverboards were described as “electric personal assistive mobility devices.” The 26th Police Precinct in Harlem started a debate about the legality of hoverboards when they tweeted “the electric #hoverboard is illegal.” This tweet led to much confusion, but it was subsequently deleted. A spokeswoman for the DMV told the site that no fine would be imposed for the first violation.
“A second or subsequent violation shall result in a civil fine not to exceed $50,” said the spokeswoman.
On the contrary, the New York Daily News has reported that some fines for hoverboard violations have been as high as $200, angering many constituents in Jesse Peralta’s district which covers the Jackson Heights, Corona, and Elmhurst neighborhoods in Queens.
“Laws must keep up with technology,” said Peralta, who feels that if the gadgets are made legal, the state can regulate their manufacturers better.
Peralta continued, “Most New Yorkers don’t even know that these hoverboards are illegal.”
Hoverboards have been a hot ticket item and can cost more than $400 a piece, according to the New York Times. Their safety has been called into question, as they have been known to catch fire. They have been banned by airlines, and even parodied on Saturday Night Live.
Somehow, the idea of people riding hoverboards on the streets of New York doesn’t quite conjure up the image of Marty McFly using a hoverboard in Back to the Future II, does it?
[Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]