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'Hoverboards' would be legal in NY under proposed legislation

Lawmakers in New York want to legalize hoverboards

Lawmakers in New York want to legalize hoverboards like this one. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Tuesday that anyone who uses a hoverboard is “out of their mind," while state and city lawmakers proposed legislation that would make them legal and Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke in favor of their safe use.

“If you want to expose your family to that, good luck to you," Bratton said during a news conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio, referencing the fact that several have caught fire. "As well as the two or three hours that it takes you to try to learn to ride the damn thing." 

Democratic Queens state senator Jose Peralta, whose district includes Jackson Heights and Corona, introduced an amended bill this week in Albany that would reclassify the devices so they would no longer be considered motor vehicle. The current classificiation requires a license to operate that does not exist.

Local authorities would then regulate where hoverboards and electric unicycles can be used, such as parks or plazas.

The New York City Council, for instance, could legislate that the devices only be used in parks or private residences.

“We don’t want a 9-year-old or 14-year-old to be competing with buses,” said Bronx Democratic councilman Andy King, who introduced a resolution with transportation committee chairman Ydanis Rodriguez, that supports the bill Peralta introduced. Rodriguez is a Democrat who represents Washington Heights and Inwood.

According to current state law, hoverboards cannot be used anywhere in New York City — even in a yard or plaza, the officials said.

“Most New Yorkers don’t know hoverboards are illegal,” said Peralta. “Laws must keep up with technology.”

An NYPD spokeswoman said the department does not have hoverboard-specific data on summonses.

De Blasio said he is working with the Council and the NYPD on hoverboard-related legislation.

“We understand that this is something a lot of people have an interest in and we want to make sure if they are used in the city, on any larger scale, that it’s done safely,” de Blasio said.

Peralta’s bill was originally introduced the second week of December, but was updated this week to include electric unicycles. They are not as popular as hoverboards, but are usually sold at the same stores. Both devices would be treated the same legally if the legislation passes.

Doiane Thompson, 32, of Westchester County, said he sells hoverboards he imports from China at his barbershop in the Bronx, and hopes they will be legalized in New York City.

He rides an electric unicycle everyday from his home to the Bronx, and says friendly cops stop him regularly to ask where he got it. He’s never gotten a summons.

“It’s pretty fun,” he said.


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