The Swegway is also known as a hoverboard. It’s a self-balancing, battery powered mode of transportation that is suitable for children over the age of eight and adults of all ages. However, while it is legal to buy a swegway or hoverboard in the UK, it is against the law to ride one on public land.
Swegway (sometimes called segway) illegal use would be classed as riding a hoverboard on roads, cycle paths, pavements, parks and any land that is not private. In the eyes of the law, you can only ride a hoverboard on private land with the owner’s permission.
It’s thanks to the 1835 Highway Act that you can’t ride a hoverboard or an electric scooter in public unless the e-scooter is part of one of the hire schemes that the Government is conducting in towns and cities across the UK. If you do ride a segway under the scheme, it has to be one of the special rental models. However, there are no schemes that allow you to rent and ride a hoverboard legally.
The Highway Act says ‘people cannot use the footway to lead or drive any ass, horse, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle, or carriage of any description’ and classes a hoverboard as a road vehicle and for that reason, it would need to be taxed, MOT’d and insured before you could legally ride it in public. If you break this law, you could be liable for a fine of up to £500 plus any damages that you may have caused whilst out riding a hoverboard (the same applies to e-scooters).
Even though there is clearly a big difference between a car and a hoverboard, you can be penalised if you break the law. The police do not view hoverboards as ‘toys’ and even if an eight-year-old is caught riding one, there will be trouble. There have been several cases of hoverboard riders receiving fines for riding on public highways.
The Department for transport says that hoverboards, e-scooters and even electric skates fall under the rules governing powered personal transportation. Bicycles and e-bikes don’t fall under these regulations.
The Crown Prosecution Service issued a statement about how Swegway is illegal in the UK, stating: “Any user of such a vehicle on a public road is likely at the very least to be committing the offences of using the vehicle without insurance and using the vehicle without an excise licence.”
If you are tempted to try and get insurance and/or a licence for your hoverboard don’t bother, because it isn’t possible.
It is only a matter of time however, before the UK catches up with other countries where riding a hoverboard is legal. Several American states and parts of Europe such as Germany, France, Italy and Ireland, allow the use of hoverboards on pavements and in certain cases, cycle lanes. You can even hire hoverboards in some of these places and use them to explore towns and cities. Cool eh?