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Hoverboards not covered in new motor vehicle law

Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act cover Segways, but not the newer devices that became popular in 2015

3 min read
caption Hoverboarding in Halifax is a current grey area
Haley MacLean
Hoverboarding in Halifax is a current grey area
caption Hoverboarding in Halifax is currently a grey area.
Haley MacLean

The provincial government passed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act in December to allow the use of Segways and “other personal transporters” on roads and sidewalks. Hoverboards, however, are not covered by the new changes as they don’t adhere to the necessary safety rules.

According to Bill 136, riders of “personal transporters” must now wear helmets, be a minimum age of 16 (or 14 with a guardian’s approval for tours) and cannot travel faster than 20 km/h on roads or seven km/h on sidewalks.

The changes to the law on personal transporters also means that the province considers operators to be like cyclists when on a roadway and pedestrians when on a sidewalk. Those specifications would cover hoverboards.

A spokesperson for the transportation department says there are other requirements under the act, however, that would bar hoverboards from sidewalks and roads.

“Some of the safety things required are lights and a bell,” said Brian Taylor, a communications adviser for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructural Renewal, “making hoverboards illegal on sidewalks or roads.”

The amendment passed in December states that “every personal transporter shall be equipped with a bell or horn in good working order.” But hoverboards are controlled solely by shifting one’s weight while standing on them.

Increasing popularity

When you hear the term hoverboard, think less Marty McFly and more a Segway minus its vertical frame.

Made by a variety of companies, hoverboards are self-balancing machines that have risen in popularity over the course of 2015.

The province has yet to issue a schedule of infractions for hoverboard riders who venture out onto streets and sidewalks.

“Where they are allowed is a grey area,” said Max Rastelli, co-owner of Segway Nova Scotia, a company that sells the devices and organizes tours. “Police know they are there so they are keeping their eyes on them. I would tend to think [hoverboards] are going to be around for a while.”

Segway Nova Scotia noticed this increase in hoverboard popularity and began supplying TrekBoards last year. TrekBoard’s product descriptions state their top cruise speeds are between 15-20 km/h, depending on the model.

Rastelli said the company has sold more than 50 hoverboards since September 2015.

“But, that’s just us. There’s a lot out there,” said Rastelli.

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