[Robert Wheatley | Lifestyle Editor]
UniVerse recently ran a survey for University of Hertfordshire students regarding Swegways; or, as they are more commonly known, hoverboards – essentially, a handless Swegway. They have gained popularity around summer this year, with celebrities like Wiz Khalifa and Jamie Foxx riding them at concerts or on TV shows in the US and, more recently, in the UK.
Respondents were asked if they had seen hoverboard usage around the university, and how frequently this had been. Out of 47 that answered, 42 had spotted people using the devices, with over half claiming they had seen them every day, or most days; commonly spotted around Dehav.
Opinions on their popularity were mixed, with some slating the Swegway, some showing an affinity towards them, and others were in-between. A few wondered if the Swegway’s would promote laziness or obesity, with one female respondent commenting:
“They’re encouraging laziness. You might as well just walk and save yourself a lot of money.”
The concepts of walking and money appeared in quite a few comments, with some highlighting the expense of the vehicles which can cost up to £400, costing more if they include in-built Bluetooth speakers. Cheaper versions can be purchased through online auction websites such as eBay for almost half this amount, though customers may wish to go to official retailers to ensure the quality of their device. Not all comments were negative, some looked at how it could encourage people to be more active, but also highlighted a legal issue that made the news in October:
“They’re cool and I guess they encourage people to get out more. But I don’t think they’re very safe near roads.”
Hoverboards are not actually allowed by, or in, roads under guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service. Like Swegways, hoverboards cannot be used in the road as they cannot be licensed like a vehicle, but also cannot be driven on pathways – similar to a Schrodinger’s vehicle. When asked what students thought about the ban, answers were mixed, though most felt some form of regulation was needed. Some felt that hoverboards should be banned from both roads and pathways, with Guy Hale commenting:
“… For roadways, they’re too slow and would cause a big impact on traffic, and for public pathways the number of times I’ve seen people fall off or otherwise lose control would suggest they’re a bit of a menace.”
An interesting theme was the idea of utilising the cycle paths some roads and pathways have. Another student, 20 year old, Louise Hal-Fead said:
“… maybe using the cycle lane would be more appropriate and using the road is pretty dangerous even for bicycles sometimes.”
It does seem more plausible, seeing as bicycles are also not legally allowed to be ridden on public pathways. Although we would have to consider how cyclists would navigate around hoverboards. And take into consideration the possibility of the hoverboard user falling from it into the road or potentially into a cyclist. If hoverboards are indeed as popular as the survey suggests, perhaps some of their respective drivers may just need to consider other pedestrians a little more.