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Column: Hey Marty McDouche, get off that thing

Marty McFly traveled “Back to the Future Part II” on Oct. 21, disguised as his son to stop his kid’s local bullies. Marty uses a futuristic hoverboard to win the battle, and the movie in turn created real life excitement for the day when these rides would become reality. Two decades later, the hands-free, self-balancing scooter has hit the streets, but as cool as the concept was in 1989, Segway hoverboards cause more trouble than they’re worth.

Ranging from around $300 to $500, the Segway hoverboard moves with the rider based on the direction and how far he or she leans—basically a Wii Balance Board on wheels.

University campuses across the nation have seen a rise in hoverboard transportation according to the Business Insider, and universities in Ohio and Florida specifically report rising popularity according to their respective websites.

The UA has also seen these machines in droves.

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Look anywhere around campus during school days and there’s guaranteed to be a multitude of students riding hoverboards down the UA Mall, on the streets and into and within buildings. Students use these devices to go about the same speed as walking with ease.

According to the UA Motor Vehicle Parking and Traffic Regulations handbook, skateboards, roller skates or other non-motorized devices are prohibited from riding on areas not allowed for bike travel such as sidewalks, the Student Union Memorial Center and inside buildings. Pedestrians also have a responsibility to avoid walking out into traffic including not traveling on bike routes by foot and only crossing at designated crosswalks.

As students are on these hoverboards in elevators, in line in the student unions and inside the library, it’s clear that entitlement is overriding the rules.

Students not only often ignore these transportation rules created for everyone’s safety, but are now laughing in the face of them by riding hoverboards as if they are both foot and non-motorized traffic.

According to BBC and the International Business Times, Segway hoverboards are illegal to ride anywhere in public in the U.K. because they don’t meet safety requirements to navigate traffic; they are vehicles and, under U.K. law, must be registered and insured.

It may sound silly to have insurance on a 20-pound toy, but that old-fashioned law gives the U.K. time to accommodate existing transportation routes for new technology such as the hoverboard.

According to Entertainment Box, the Smart Balance Wheel Mini Segway can reach up to speeds of 10 to 12 mph, and in heat of traffic, trying to move gently backwards to stop someone from hitting another will likely result in some kid falling on their back or hitting their head sooner than later.

Entitlement and the higher price tag on a luxury item have made the boards the target of increased theft in the U.K.

Last month, two separate cases occurred where a teenager was assaulted and stolen from while riding a hoverboard in public according to the Daily Mail. During early September in Bedford, England, two teenagers were held at knifepoint for their Segway. On Sept. 23, an 18-year-old traveling down a road in London was approached by a van and a group of men jumped out, attacked the teenager and took his hoverboard before driving off.

Even if somehow a rider slowly chugging by on their super interactive, portable, balance board isn’t being stalked by a hungry pack of thieves, the hoverboard is more a go-to theft item than other lightweight transportation. You sure as hell can’t U-Lock it to something.

According to NBC 10, a man held victims in a take-out restaurant in Pennsylvania at gunpoint on Oct. 5 before taking wallets, money, an iPhone and a Segway hoverboard.

According to the restaurant’s security footage released by the Philadelphia Police Department, the suspect immediately targeted the teenager on the hoverboard after returning from his car with a gun. He demanded money from the teen before the others, and then grabbed the kid by his hoodie and shoved him across the floor.

If that hoverboard had been a longboard, skateboard or even one of those mini boards, no robber would have wasted their time with that teen. The hoverboard attracts attention; it has LED blinkers, is used by countless celebrities and is an expensive toy that this generation is obsessing over.

Hoverboards, unfortunately, are a sign of the times. Entitlement and displays of wealth pervade our culture. People think they can ride them inside buildings and infringe upon other peoples’ safety; hoverboards are a problem.


Follow Ashleigh Horowitz on Twitter.



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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (12/4)
744 14 1.9%
Total (8/2)
64,794 1,040 1.6%
Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated December 5, 2021