One American City Wants Those Godawful Hoverboards Off the Streets


So is the hoverboard—more accurately, the self-balancing electric scooter—really illegal in New York City or what? That was the question raised by a recently posted (and since deleted) tweet by the NYPD’s 26th Precinct, which said, “Be advised that the electric hoverboard is illegal as per NYC Admin. Code 19-176.2.”

Turns out, as Gothamist noted, the answer is oddly complicated.

Some NYPD officers aren’t even sure what to make of it. Gothamist cited a report by CBS New York, in which one officer said the police just didn’t know, because it was “new technology.”

Both Gothamist and BuzzFeed concluded it’s perfectly legal to own a hoverboard. However, as BuzzFeed’s Joseph Bernstein put it: “The city’s Department of Transportation does consider hoverboards motor vehicles, and any motor vehicle that cannot be registered with the New York State is illegal to ride in any area that allows registered motor vehicle traffic, including streets, sidewalks, highways, parking lots.”

Turns out this issue hasn’t just come up in the city that never sleeps, where dead-eyed tiny scooter jockies coast along like pod people thumbing their Spotify playlists, but it’s been an issue across the sea, as well. The Guardian reported in October that Britain’s Crown Prosecution found hoverboards “too unsafe to ride on the road, but too dangerous to ride on the pavement.” 

Anyone concerned about American or U.K. hoverboard statutes might try AirWheel’s “hover box,” which is basically just a box shielding the reason your feet seem to be floating from the prying eyes of the local law. 

Or, you know, not buzz around in public on your funny little scooty-scoot, which never was, and never will be an actual  hoverboard

Photos by Christopher Furlong / Getty