One-wheeler and hoverboard: more than toys
You’ll spot them on the street more often: electrical devices with one or two wheels. Some of them are for pleasure only, others are a serious means of transport. What do you need to know about hoverboards, one-wheelers, scooters and other technological wonders?
There are numerous lots of models today. Mostly compact and light, elegant and easy to stow in a bag. Easy to take with you on the train, tram or bus. You’ve got one-wheelers with footrests on both sides, skateboards with one central wheel or hoverboards. Small variants of the Segway introduced in 2001 with just a board and two wheels, one on each side. But sometimes quite giant with motorcycle or go-kart wheels that can cope with all terrains, even sand and dunes. Some of them have speed control up to 12 km/h, others (scooters) can reach a top speed over 50.
No front or back
Hoverboards in general don’t have a front and a back anymore. You can drive them in both directions. The integrated front- and rear lightning will adapt automatically. They can be a nice solution for the ‘last kilometer’ to the public transport or your final destination for instance. They’re ideal for short distances under 15 km, especially in cities and pedestrian zones.
When considering a purchase, keep in mind what you want your wheels to use for. Small wheels can get stuck easier on little boulders or dirt and are not so easy on cobblestones or some pavements. If you want to use it for commuting for instance, choose big wheels. They are more stable at higher speeds. With a little practice you can deal with an amazing lot of circumstances: off road, sand, steps,…
Most devices are steered with the way you move your body weight, like on the Segway. Electronics keep you in balance. It takes some time to get it right and there are a lot of different opinions about how easy or difficult it is. Initiation lessons are a good idea. Training shouldn’t be done on public roads and wearing gloves and a skateboarder helmet is advisable.
What does the law says?
There is no legal framework yet for electric bicycles, let alone for one-wheelers and hoverboards. Speed is crucial. When you keep at walking speeds – under 6 km/h – you are considered being a pedestrian. Under 25 km/h, bicycle rules apply. Above that, motor vehicle rules do.
If you’re vehicle can move autonomously with an engine, you need an insurance for third parties according to Belgian law. If you have to peddle along only assisted by the electric engine, a family insurance will do.
There are not that much studies yet on the dangers of these devices since they only started to appear outside of China since 2015. First scientific papers mention more accidents to happen in house, then outside, causing lots of fractures on the wrist, arm and elbow. But sometimes there are injuries to the epiphysis, complex fractures and concussions too.