Hoverboards and segways illegal on UK roads says 180-year-old law

Segway riders and hoverboard fanciers have received some disappointing news via Twitter from London's Metropolitan Police.

Marty McFly's unforgettable hovercraft and sneakers from Back To The Future

Marty McFly's unforgettable hovercraft and sneakers from Back To The Future

The MPS communicated that, "Own one of these or thinking about getting one? They're illegal to ride in public!" above an image of a segway. The tweet's link showed that there is a law that makes the driving of segways on public roads illegal, as they don't have a road licence or permit.

What's more according to a law that dates back to the 1800s, it's illegal to ride (or stand on them) on the pavement!

Segways are illegal to use on public roads in the UK.

Segways are illegal to use on public roads in the UK. Image by Alan Kotok / CC BY 2.0

The MPS found that the driving of segways, or self-balancing scooters, on a sidewalk,  contravenes section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 in England and Wales and section 129 (5) of the Roads Act 1984 in Scotland. In an official statement, the MPS warned, "You can only ride an unregistered self-balancing scooter on land which is private property and with the landowner's permission. The Department for Transport would advise that appropriate safety clothing should be worn at all times."

The Crown Prosecution made it clearer still, by adding that the failure to comply with the laws around segway use, would be regarded "as being as serious as using a motor vehicle without insurance". Marty McFly would've been in serious trouble.

But hoverboard and segways users are unlikely to be discouraged. In fact, speaking to The Guardian, segway retailer Simon Benson of Ghetto Gadgets, said that the law restricting segway use is likely only to increase its attractiveness and cool cachet: "If the authorities give any impression that the use of hoverboards in some circumstances is unlawful, then I expect sales to soar."

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