Hover Boards Were a Hot Christmas Gift

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Hover boards are the hot new thing. If you haven’t seen one yet they look like a Segway without the upper structure. They look like they are a lot of fun but their use is not without dangers. There have been multiple reports of the units catching fire during use and when in storage, charging and in use. The problem seems to be with the Lithium Ion batteries. These have led to law suits being initiated in America.

In the Canadian context I’ve seen a few in Toronto, and the City of Toronto isn’t pleased with their use on sidewalks. According to an interview in the Globe and Mail, Naz Capano, Manager, Operational Planning and Policy Toronto Transportation Services, they aren’t allowed on sidewalks as they are considered motorized vehicles. Toronto bylaws restrict all motorized vehicles on sidewalks except for mobility scooters. The City hasn’t yet requested police to enforce the by-law.

The boards don’t hover above the ground but are battery powered scooters with two wheels that respond shifts in body position of the rider. They can travel up to 10 km an hour making them a dangerous mix if you hit a pedestrian. They range in price from $600 - $2000. Advocates love their ease of use and portability, saying that when you aren’t riding them you can simply port them indoors to your destination.

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act does not consider them as motor vehicles and thus restricts their use on the road. For municipalities like Toronto where by-laws restrict them from use on sidewalks, bike lanes and paths or parks,  this poses a challenge to riders who then legally can only use them on private property. Most Canadian jurisdictions are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to the specific regulation of the boards as their real popularity and problems haven’t really surfaced yet.