SF’s Unsolved Mystery: Hoverboards

By sfweekly – excerpt

This has got to be one of the strangest stories of the season. Does the Idaho Stop Law apply to hoverboards, one of the most controversial vehicles of the season. They make everything else look tame, but, look at how the SF Bike Coalition rates them…

Hoverboards are this holiday season’s hottest gift — literally. A defect in the lithium ion batteries that power the self-balancing scooters has led to reports of the devices exploding. (On Dec. 15, one caught fire inside an East Bay house.) Amazon has pulled some hoverboards from the company’s virtual shelves and urged customers in some markets to trash the unsafe product and collect a refund, while major airlines have banned the devices on planes…

Asked if the Idaho stop also applies to hoverboards, the bill’s sponsor, Supervisor John Avalos, declined to comment.

“I really have no idea,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, who supported the bill.

Supervisor Mark Farrell (also a supporter) was unavailable to comment, although a spokesman from his office wrote, “I don’t believe [the Idaho stop] would apply [to hoverboards] — the ordinance specifically references bicycles.”

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, tasked with regulating traffic, wasn’t able to clarify matters either.

“I don’t have anything to say,” an SFMTA spokesman said. “I’m not being cagey, it’s just that hoverboards aren’t vehicles, so it’d be the cops who’d care. There are no real vehicle regulations associated with hoverboards.”…

Not vehicles? What is a vehicle if hoverboards aren’t one? How do they classify skateboards? Are those vehicles? Are those covered by the Idaho Stop law? Where are they supposed to hover? Sidewalks? Bike lanes? traffic lanes?

When Cmdr. Ann Mannix, the San Francisco Police Department’s traffic chief, was asked if hoverboard riders would be penalized if they cruised through a stop sign, she said, “Depending on how egregious the violation, death or serious bodily injury may be the ‘penalty’ if the rider passes through and strikes, or is struck by, a car or strikes a pedestrian.”

So does the Idaho stop apply to hoverboards? Mannix couldn’t say, noting that “further research is required.”

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which supports the Idaho stop, said that whatever the law, hoverboards should be low-priority for the SFPD. The behaviors that account for the majority of traffic deaths and injuries are when speeding cars run stop signs or red lights, fail to yield the right of way, or violate turn restrictions, they claim… (more)

Not sure how many members will drop their club membership after hearing this, but, if this is any indication of where that club is heading, they may be looking at a lot less support going forward. Comment on the source.



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