A ban that will prohibit the use of electronic hoverboards on sidewalks in the city’s business corridors was approved by the Long Beach City Council last night, with members citing the need to protect the safety of pedestrians as the motion’s main focus.
The proposal was brought to the council floor by councilmembers Suzie Price, Daryl Supernaw and Stacy Mungo, who argued that ban’s prohibition of the use of skateboards, bicycles and similar devices on sidewalks in commercial business corridors should be extended to the growing fleet of motorized hoverboards.
“I think hoverboards present the same types of risks as those other devices, and for the safety of the pedestrians who travel along our business corridors shopping and with families and young children,” Price said. “I think it would be wise and prudent to prohibit the use of hoverboards on sidewalks in business corridors, similar to the bans that we have on bikes, skateboards and other devices.”
Price also asked that a provision to allow for the use of segways, something the Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA) security team uses in downtown and some police officers use to patrol, be exempted from the ban.
Assembly Bill 604, a new state law that came into effect at the beginning of the year, requires operators of hoverboards to be at least 16-years-old when riding in public, wear protective helmets and ride in the street where the speed limit is under 35 miles per hour. It also makes it illegal to operate the boards while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
While the vote to support the ban was unanimous, Eighth District Councilman Al Austin advised his colleagues that they take a closer look at the merits of promoting hoverboards as a mode of transportation in a city that is encouraging more non-traditional methods of transportation as it battles its impacted parking issues. He noted that while a generation gap may currently exist, that could change in the coming years if the hoverboards take hold.
“I think it’s important for us to look at mobility and getting around town and getting outside of cars,” Austin said. “As annoying as they might be because there are a lot of young people on them right now, hoverboards offer another option.”
Prior to the new law going into effect, the hoverboards had gained internet stardom for viral videos of people crashing while trying out their new Christmas hoverboards, and for more dubious videos of hoverboards exploding and catching fire. The latter prompted the devices to be banned from air travel because of issues with their lithium fuel cells spontaneously combusting, which posed risks to airliners and their passengers.
The unanimous vote by the council will put the fate of hoverboards in the city attorney’s hands. Their office is expected to consult with Development Services to define what exactly a “business corridor sidewalk” is to determine where the boards will be banned from. A proposal to allow them to used in bike lanes will also be considered in drafting the ordinance that will come back to the council for a final reading before becoming law.