Beginner Seeking Guide: Riding On The Street



  • Hello Forum,

    I bought OW+ with the thoughts of using it to ride to work, for fun, and to try something new. This is my most expensive impulse purchase I have ever done but no regrets; just excitement.

    I’ll be upfront and say I am really scared to ride this on the street. I can get frazzled easily since I am not familiar with riding on the street other than driving a car, and I would still be learning how to master an OW. I will be practising in my condo parking garage but I have questions for when I try to take it on the road. I know the roads are different for every city and country and they all have different laws but I want to ask for general tips and common sense stuff that I don’t know.

    1. I am assuming you ride OW on the bike lane / as if it is a bike? If yes, and you want to make a left turn, would you cross as a pedestrian to the other side of the road and resume your ride?
    2. Do you ever ride on the sidewalk? If yes, how slow can the OW go and if you go too slow would it ever put you off-balance? I know some people ride bicycle on the sidewalk but I believe people shouldn’t do that? Not sure how that works
    3. So I know helmet is a must. Do you ever wear elbow/knee pads? If no, is it only because it makes you “look silly” or you don’t find the added value?
    4. To alert people, do you only use your voice? What do you do in situation, say a car is ignoring their blind spot and making a right turn, or a car about to open their door while you’re riding next to it:
      a) You can move away safely?
      b) You can stop safely?
      c) _______(?)
    5. How do you carry your OW? Naked or you found a produc to carry your OW?


  • @bazzingapunk welcome to the tribe.

    1. bike lane is good, but if you're brand-new and it's next to a vehicle lane, be careful, as if you lose control or get tossed off the board, that would be not good if next to cars. For turning left at intersections if it's busy or dangerous I do it like a pedestrian and walk the crosswalk, if not busy or when safe I do it like a car and just pull into the intersection and turn left. You are wise to stay away from vehicles until you're more experienced.
    1. I ride sidewalks all the time. The more experienced you are the easier this gets. Peds sometimes don't like us sharing sidewalks with them and may make comments, I just smile and move on if they say anything. OW can crawl at the slowest pace, and as you get better you can stop and balance in place.
    2. I only ride with helmet, knee pads and wrist guards. I also wear a protective pad on my front shin side, and elbow protectors (kinda like a protective skin) and sometimes also elbow pads if it's difficult terrain. I charge it pretty hard and the gear allows me to not focus on the consequences, as I'm prepared. Make no mistake, all the baloney on this forum about how guys never fall, they're never going to fall, they're superman, etc- don't believe any of it. Anyone and everyone who rides a OW has either gone down or is going to go down.
    3. Some guys like to ride with a bluetooth boom box that hooks onto a pant loop. I usually just go on by without saying anything as I'm moving too fast for them to react, but if it's heavy I'll say 'on your left' or 'on your right' or 'behind you'.
    4. I don't do any long distance carrying but the solution is to purchase a handle from @thegreck- http://gregdigenti.bigcartel.com/product/aluminum-side-handle-for-onewheel. There are also a range of bags if you're looking for that type of solution.


  • @bazzingapunk Hope this helps... I've been riding for 19 months and have a ridiculous amount of miles behind me - mostly riding in the streets of Chicago.

    1. Yes! I think like a biker when I ride. When making a left turn, I pretend I'm a car and cruise to the front of the Left Turn lane. If you do this, remember to GO right when the light turns green or cars will honk at you.
      // However, definitely start out in a parking lot and work your way up. Don't try to commute to work on your second day, spills are likely in the beginning as you learn the acceleration and capabilities of the board. The streets are not a safe place for that learning process.

    2. I almost never ride on the sidewalk. In fact, the only major injury I've had was when a Great Dane bit me on the leg when I was riding on the sidewalk. He took a chunk out of my leg. Since then, I stick to the streets and think like a biker.

    3. Personally I only wear a helmet and gloves. I have scraped up my knees a few times!

    4. I know Sam Sheffer (Mashable dude) uses a whistle as a "horn" when he rides in the streets of NYC. I've always thought this was a good idea. Personally, I blast music on my JBL CLIP 2 and the noise tends to warn people well enough.
      THIS VIDEO is a good example of how you can move out of the way if a car door is opened on you. Learn the basics of maneuvering, stopping and accelerating, and general balance in the beginning!! Stick with it, and it's very possible to conquer the streets.

    5. I use the built in handle. Works for me, but I'm 23 and don't mind the bicep workout.



  • I ride mostly on sidewalks and bike lanes.
    Streets only when I have no other choice.
    Despite always giving the right of way to cars and leave enough clearance for a truck to pass,
    you'll occasionally get a moron driver who'll blow the horn in your face.
    Sidewalk riding, you'll get to a point where you can slow down to a standstill while on OW and let them pass.
    Children or elderly, dismount and let them pass.
    When in doubt, always dismount and carry your OW if you have to.



  • Been commuting to and from work via train and Onewheel for over a year now, and I stick to sidewalks as much as possible. It's too freaky to be on the street with those crazy drivers.

    Sidewalks are fun, and it's fairly easy to dodge pedestrians as long as it's a fairly wide sidewalk. But you will find yourself having to yell "EXCUSE ME!" a few times a day, since people are always in their own world, looking at their phones and listening to music.

    Full disclosure, I did practice every day for a month before I attempted the commute, because like you, I was worried about one false move and I die.



  • @thegreck Now that I think about it.. I should have left these questions to guys like you. You know.... sane individuals. PROOF of INSANITY.



  • @slydogstroh yeah, you're insane for riding between vehicles like that. That simply doesn't look very smart, and it's really not fair to drivers as they have no reason to expect it.



  • @e-ball If you're going to be dumb, you at least better be tough :-)



  • @e-ball @COKids In my defense I do have 3255Miles on my board right now and much of that has been in the streets of Chicago. It's not like I'm a few months in and trying this stuff. I basically live on my board and know my/the board's limits.
    Michigan Ave isn't too bad... there's so much traffic cars really have nowhere to go most of the time. The residential streets around Wrigleyville are twice as dangerous because there is some space in each lane and drivers are more aggressive in that area. Awareness is the key to being safe in the streets!



  • @groovyruvy hit most of the high points, but the biggest thing you can do is get more comfortable on the board. Getting comfortable really amounts to three things:

    1. Ride more.
    2. Take some falls.
    3. Ride offroad.

    Here's why: Riding more is obvious, but taking some falls teaches you some important lessons about where the limits to the board are and what can make you unstable even at low speeds. Riding offroad makes you more comfortable when the board moves under you. Even a short jaunt through the lawn will suddenly make the sidewalk seem easy. So find a big grassy park, or a baseball field that's not in use and go tear around in the grass. And fall down a lot while you do so. You'll learn to look for gopher holes and you'll notice that the tire can sometimes suddenly spin out if you accelerate too fast. Look for some steep hills and practice maintaining speed while you climb. You'll realize where the limits to the motor's power are at.



  • Another thread you may be interested in @bazzingapunk
    http://community.onewheel.com/topic/6327/noob-questionaire
    Covers similar stuff.
    For your stats.

    1. Yep bike paths mostly. To cross depends on the road but if it's multi lane and busy, I pick it up, but often it's fine to ride across.
    2. Yep Sidewalk is fine, if'its really busy like a bike you'll have a challenge.
    3. Always helmet, but for me that's it, I commute so no real chance of a speed fall, I just take it easy.
    4. usually just voice but if on the road and there's an oncoming vehicle I'll indicate turns with my arm so they don't wait necessarily..


    1. Always ride like your a bike if you HAVE to be on the road. And yes just cross while riding but only when you're allowed to don't go when the commanding hand on the other side tells you no.
    2. Riding sidewalks is what I almost ALWAYS do because texting drivers these days are super bad and I have been almost hit by one, so I stick to sidewalks if there are dogs or other people cut to the grass next to it or if its a sidewalk next to a big street just keep going weave in and out of people just don't hit em, if you do don't yell at them say sorry. And you can go pretty slow like walking speed around 2-3 mph I don't think it's that hard on pavement, Off-Roading and going that speed is hard at first but if you can go slow on a bumpy path or truly Off-Road you will be good, eventually, you can stop and be stationary on an OW
    3. I always wear a helmet its a MUST for any rider I personally have cracked 1 in half on the OW in some nasty crashes, but the fact I Off-Road a lot sorta makes me not need knee pads and elbow pads because if I fall I just fall in some prickly bushes or in dirt, I got a nasty thing on my right elbow right now from falling in the dirt though, it's not that bad you can be tough also the elbow knee stuff doesn't make me feel as free and open to do turns and stuff its like my knees are locked up and they look funny.
    4. Car isn't looking at me I just go backward or speed up then knock on their window, tell em to look next time, car opens their door jump off and let the OW hit the door and jack up their door make them pay for new bumpers and footpads(around $120 with tax and shipping)
    5. I carry it just regular, I don't usually have to carry it unless I'm having to fun offroading than occasionally(once a week) have to carry it 5-6 miles back home.
      I've seen some people make handles for it but for me, it wouldn't work as it would get caught in sticks and bushes.

    If you are going to use this for the daily commute to work, I wouldn't unless you can ride on unexpected terrain(bumps) without falling so practice going over an area with potholes and sewer grates without knowing they are there, you need to be pretty decent at riding before you can take this to work and expect to not be squashed by a car, I got good at turns because our basement isn't finished yet and we just ride in circles down there, but since you live in a condo with a parking garage that would be a great place to practice turns and stuff like that. Riding Off-Road has helped me be more responsive to unexpected things and stuff like that, but also my experience in snowboarding, wakesurfing, wakeboarding, skateboarding, and balance boarding have helped quite a lot and in return the OW has helped in those sports as well when I can't to them the OW simulates most of what I just listed. But falling offroad helps you avoid it on smoother surfaces like a road. Hope I helped!



  • What they said



  • Not sure if this was mentioned yet, but...go straight, if something gets in your way, turn.



  • @slydogstroh no worries, it was just something my dad used to say when we were racing motocross, thought it fit! Have fun/stay safe!



  • Thank you everyone for taking the time to share your knowledge. The community in here is awesome!
    Hoping I find more Canadians who uses OW.



    1. Yes, bike lane if available, right side if not (I'm a rightie) so I can better eyeball parked cars. For left turns I generally move to the left lane and turn as a car. But it's very situational. If I'm not comfortable with the traffic flow, I may switch to "pedestrian" mode.

    2. Yes, use the skateboard rule. Ride slowly and respectfully. I'm comfortable enough on the OW that I can basically move at pedestrian speed if necessary. Try to give a wide berth to walkers. Sometimes not possible to move on NYC sidewalks, in which case I carry.

    3. Helmet almost always. Knee pads if I'm riding aggressively, never elbow pads (though I did get a nice scrape trying to beat my speed record recently so probably wouldn't have been a bad idea). But generally if I'm riding "within the envelope" they're not necessary.

    4. Use voice, have pounded on cars on rare occasions, but that situation can escalate, so usually just yell.



  • I go back and forth on street, bike lane and sidewalk and i love the freedom sensation it gives.

    You go faster on streets, because the ground (asphalt) is better and everything around moves faster. That can be dangerous, so you need to know your limits.
    One thing i miss on street is a rearview mirror, to constantly check the distance with the car behind. Most drivers are curious and slow down. Some dont care. And very few are pissed off and get dangerous (no distance, they try to push you).
    I'd love to have a kind of lidar telling if a car is accelerating on me.
    i would say street is an option if there is no car or if the traffic is moving at the same speed as your (or lower).

    Getting on sidewalk after street is kind of relaxing but you still need your brain 100% alert to not hurt someone, or even scare someone. Always yield to pedestrians.
    Frequent dangers are people suddenly getting on your way from nowhere (acturally from a parked car or a building :). Watch for store entrance.
    People suddently changing directions (as we do when we are pedestrians !)
    And leashed animals suddenly blocking the sidewalk. I had once a leashed dog jumping at me.

    There is definily less friction in a bike lane (most people going around 20 km/h).
    One danger here would be to fall, as the bike lanes (in Paris) are narrow with a small concrete wall on the side. That means there is no room to fall safely.

    all this gets harder when it rains on your face...
    But overall i love it !



  • Great questions OP

    You asked all the ones I had for me ;-)

    As I eagerly await my first board of any kind since I was a teen (early 30s now) I am both growing more excited and a bit anxious over the falls that will undoubtedly occur.

    Another question for the experienced riders...

    How worried should we newbies really be of sudden cut offs and/or nose dives? Are they truly 99% of the time human error or is there a real threat of getting tossed on pavement for not fault of your own. That's the main thing as I read throw all the forums that worries me.

    Also...any one wheel couples aka those who now ride with their wife or gf? Any tips on precautions for over zealous better halfs? Proactive question for someone who has a wife that will need hers not too long after I finally get mine I'm sure...

    Overall my plan is to practice daily in a large park by my house that has both tons of grass and paved walkways until I'm bored before I take it to the public streets...



  • elbow&whrist protection!



  • @JayWhy
    I'm also waiting on my first onewheel and been having similar questions. I really appreciate the OP and everyone's detailed answers. Seems like a great forum so far, been spending a good amount of time reading posts, watching you tubes, etc. Looking forward to hearing how everyone does with their learning curve once onewheels are shipped.


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