"For Non-Motorized Use Only"

  • So this is bound to come up for many of us eventually, but what is to be done about those who will inevitably get their panties in a bunch about using OneWheels and such on bike lanes and other trails and paths designated for non-motorized use? As you can see from the busy bodies filling up the comments section in this article it's already potentially an issue. Of course I'm biased, but to me it seems perfectly appropriate to ride a OneWheel anywhere bikes are allowed. I wouldn't ride one into a designated wilderness area where all forms of mechanized travel are banned, including mountain bikes, but I don't feel we should be relegated only to trails used by dirt bikes and four-wheelers.

    To me the distinction is between motorized vehicles regulated by the US Department of Transportation (or your local equivalent) such as motorcycles, snowmobiles, and Teslas; and those regulated by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (or your local equivalent) which would include both regular and electric-assisted bicycles, Razor scooters, motorized wheelchairs (I think), and our beloved OneWheels. That's what I would argue if harassed by law enforcement.

    I'm just afraid the same backlash that took all the wind out of Segway's sail doesn't ruin it for us. That makes it doubly important that we all act as good stewards by being respectful. Haters gonna hate, but we should still be careful in not giving them any reason to crack down on us.


  • @bmtka I was really worried about what was going to happen when I rode my OW while I waited for it to arrive (which back when I ordered mine was a 2-month wait, and it was at the height of the hoverboard explosions debacle) but so far, I've ridden on bike paths, on train platforms, on city sidewalks and right up to my office building, and even though I've seen and ridden right past lots of police officers and other officials, so far the only thing any of them have asked me is the basic curious questions that anyone else has about this magical device.

  • @bmtka Everyone should click through to that link and read some of the comments. Amazing.

  • @Aswellie Yes it's pretty sad. Being a drone owner as well it's really disheartening the way people freak out about new technology. Ignorance is everywhere but hopefully in the end common sense will prevail. I have had zero negative reaction on bike trails as of yet.

  • If going on those kind or lanes/roads during the day, I recommend riding with the lights off. It helps keep a non-motorized look to it.

  • @forzabucks totally agree. Lights out during the day...draws a little less attention.

  • I say screw the rules and screw the people who are upset at rules being broken even when no harm has been done. Use common sense and respect pedestrians. A ow should definitely be allowed anywhere a bike or skateboard can be ridden.

  • In Washington the OneWheel appears to fit the statutory definition of an "electric personal assistive mobility device" (EPAMD). By statute it can go anywhere a bicycle can go (including sidewalks), except that local governments may regulate their use (1) in any area used for recreation, habitat, trails, open space, or conservation purposes, (2) on streets with a speed limit greater than 25 mph, or (3) speed restrictions (not prohibitions) in areas with congested pedestrian/non-motorized traffic.

    Also, I have seen private trail systems where motor vehicles are prohibited, or where skateboards and scooters are prohibited. It depends what the definition of these items are. In Washington EPAMD's are specifically excluded from the definition of "motor vehicle". A OneWheel is not a skateboard nor is it a scooter (which is defined as having a handlebar).

    You need to check state and local laws on this.

  • @mdwatson1957 That's good information, actually. According to Montana Code Annotated 2015, "1-8-376. Authorized operation of electric personal assistive mobility devices. Electric personal assistive mobility devices, as defined in 61-1-101, are permitted to operate on sidewalks, unless they are prohibited by official traffic control devices, on bike paths, and on roads and streets that have a speed limit of 35 miles an hour or less."

    Now the bike path along the road to my place of employment at every intersection has signs stating, "For Non-Motorized Use." While this is a bike path, does that "official traffic control device" specifically preclude an EPAMD? It's a bit tricky, and it's not like I wouldn't carry on as usual if it specifically did. I understand fully that the "spirit of the law" doesn't apply to our devices, but the letter of the law does, and that is somewhat unsettling.

    I guess in the Missoula situation the way the law is specifically written, one could pedantically argue that these walking and biking paths are not sidewalks--they do not parallel roads and are not paved--and that their "official traffic control devices" cannot by state law apply to an EPAMD.

  • It is always upsetting when progress is slowed (or halted) by ignorance. The only comforting thing about the comments in the article are that they appear to be by people who have never seen a OW in person and are reacting to a worst case scenario they have imagined in their heads.

    I can't express enough how important it is for all of us to be good ambassadors, polite and respectful when we ride in public. Don't ride up on people quickly and without an audible warning. Don't scare them or their pets if you can avoid it.

    My experiences with the public so far have been positive, people think this device is amazing and want to talk to me about it. I have yet to see anyone in person threatened by the fact that it has a motor. If we work together we can lead the discussion so the laws will be made in our favor and not the other way around.

  • I started taking the train to work a couple of weeks ago, riding my OW to and from the stations on either end, and this morning I had my first Metro employee tell me not to ride it on the platform. Up until that point, I've ridden right past them and they've either said nothing, said "hello," or asked me questions about what I was riding out of curiosity.

    I could kind of see it in her eyes before I even got to her that she was going to be the first one to give me a hard time, though. Some people just don't want anyone else to have fun, and those people are the enemies of OneWheel.

  • @thegreck The fun police suck!

  • @thegreck I would have put on a passive-aggressive show for the fascist, furrowing the brow, and feigning backpain while picking up my heavy and awkward personal assistive mobility device, and then slowly shuffling toward the exit dragging one foot. Bonus points for moaning loudly so that other commuters notice and give her a dirty look. Let's be honest, carrying that thing is a disability all on it's own.

    I'm a real asshole when it comes to douchey authority figures.

  • @bmtka Hahaha... Yeah me too, usually, and I wanted to give her shit, but I was thinking about what Casey Neistat always says: If a person of authority asks you to get off your board, don't argue, just politely say okay, get off the board, and walk off. Then jump back on as soon as you're around the corner.

  • Honestly most people that have seen me riding don't know that it is motorized. I've had so many people tell me that they assumed I had some major push off or was just riding down hill.

    In my opinion the term motorized vehicles was intended to categorize vehicles with a gas tank and a tail pipe. Now as more and more vehicles become electric they need a new way to categorize them. A power wheel is not the same as a onewheel and a ow is not the same as a tesla. A foot powered bike can be just as dangerous as a ow if not much more going much faster.

  • @bmtka The Montana definition of EPAMD is different than Washington's - Washington's includes one wheeled vehicles, Montana's does not.

  • Here is what I found for California. Looks pretty solid to cover the OW except max speed of 12.5mph and 2 wheels.


    CHAPTER  106

    INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member DeSaulnier

                        FEBRUARY 20, 2007

    An act to amend Sections 313 and 21280 of, to amend and repeal
    Section 467 of, to add Section 21281.5 to, and to repeal Section
    21283 of, the Vehicle Code, relating to electric personal assistive
    mobility devices.


    AB 470, DeSaulnier. Electric personal assistive mobility devices.
    (1) Existing law defines "pedestrian" for purposes of the Vehicle
    Code to include a person who is using an electric personal assistive
    mobility device (EPAMD), as that term is defined. The definition of
    EPAMD, among other things, requires the maximum speed of the EPAMD to
    be less than 12.5 miles per hour. Existing law imposes safety
    specifications on EPAMDs, and authorizes a city, county, or city and
    county, to ensure the safety of pedestrians, to regulate the time,
    place, and manner of the operation of EPAMDs and their use as a
    pedestrian for purposes of the Vehicle Code. A violation of those
    provisions is an infraction. State agencies are also authorized to
    limit or prohibit the time, place, and manner of EPAMD use on state
    property. Existing law repeals these provisions on January 1, 2008,
    unless a later enacted statute deletes or extends that date.
    This bill would delete the repeal of those provisions, thereby
    extending them indefinitely. The bill also would change the
    definition of EPAMD to require the maximum speed of an EPAMD to be no
    more than 12.5 miles per hour, rather than less than 12.5 miles per
    hour, and to require an EPAMD to be no greater than 20 inches deep
    and 25 inches wide.
    The bill would impose additional safety requirements on the
    operation of an EPAMD. The bill would require a person operating an
    EPAMD on specified surfaces to yield the right-of-way to all
    pedestrians on foot.
    The bill would impose a state-mandated local program by extending
    indefinitely the existing provisions, the violation of which
    constitutes an infraction, and because a violation of the new
    provisions would be an infraction.
    (2) The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse
    local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the
    state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that
    This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this
    act for a specified reason.


    SECTION 1. Section 313 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:
    313. The term "electric personal assistive mobility device" or
    "EPAMD" means a self-balancing, nontandem two-wheeled device, that is
    not greater than 20 inches deep and 25 inches wide and can turn in
    place, designed to transport only one person, with an electric
    propulsion system averaging less than 750 watts (1 horsepower), the
    maximum speed of which, when powered solely by a propulsion system on
    a paved level surface, is no more than 12.5 miles per hour.
    SEC. 2. Section 467 of the Vehicle Code, as amended by Section 3
    of Chapter 404 of the Statutes of 2004, is amended to read:
    467. (a) A "pedestrian" is a person who is afoot or who is using
    any of the following:
    (1) A means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a
    (2) An electric personal assistive mobility device.
    (b) "Pedestrian" includes a person who is operating a
    self-propelled wheelchair, motorized tricycle, or motorized
    quadricycle and, by reason of physical disability, is otherwise
    unable to move about as a pedestrian, as specified in subdivision
    SEC. 3. Section 467 of the Vehicle Code, as amended by Section 4
    of Chapter 404 of the Statutes of 2004, is repealed.
    SEC. 4. Section 21280 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:
    21280. (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the
    (1) This state has severe traffic congestion and air pollution
    problems, particularly in its cities, and finding ways to reduce
    these problems is of paramount importance.
    (2) Reducing the millions of single passenger automobile trips of
    five miles or less that Californians take each year will
    significantly reduce the pollution caused by fuel emissions and
    aggravated by automobile congestion.
    (3) Electric personal assistive mobility devices that meet the
    definition in Section 313 operate solely on electricity and employ
    advances in technology to safely integrate the user in pedestrian
    (4) Electric personal assistive mobility devices enable California
    businesses, public officials, and individuals to travel farther and
    carry more without the use of traditional vehicles, thereby promoting
    gains in productivity, minimizing environmental impacts, and
    facilitating better use of public ways.
    (b) The Legislature is adding this article as part of its program
    to promote the use of no-emission transportation.
    SEC. 5. Section 21281.5 is added to the Vehicle Code, to read:
    21281.5. (a) A person shall not operate an EPAMD on a sidewalk,
    bike path, pathway, trail, bike lane, street, road, or highway at a
    speed greater than is reasonable and prudent having due regard for
    weather, visibility, pedestrians, and other conveyance traffic on,
    and the surface, width, and condition of, the sidewalk, bike path,
    pathway, trail, bike lane, street, road, or highway.
    (b) A person shall not operate an EPAMD at a speed that endangers
    the safety of persons or property.
    (c) A person shall not operate an EPAMD on a sidewalk, bike path,
    pathway, trail, bike lane, street, road, or highway with willful or
    wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
    (d) A person operating an EPAMD on a sidewalk, bike path, pathway,
    trail, bike lane, street, road, or highway shall yield the
    right-of-way to all pedestrians on foot, including persons with
    disabilities using assistive devices and service animals that are
    close enough to constitute a hazard.
    SEC. 6. Section 21283 of the Vehicle Code is repealed.
    SEC. 7. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
    Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
    the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school
    district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or
    infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty
    for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the
    Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the
    meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California

  • @jeffmccosker said:

    Here is what I found for California. Looks pretty solid to cover the OW except max speed of 12.5mph and 2 wheels.

    And the turning in place part. Damn, I wish this act covered the OW completely, so I could throw it in the face of any Metro worker who made me get off of it and lug it across the train platform!

  • I wonder if in the classic mode the max speed is less than 12.5 miles and hour . I think it is because of the really early pushback . if anyone wants to argue say it was in classic mode and there is no way I can go past the 12.5 mph @jeffmccosker. and that I am reducing emissions from not driving my car lol.

  • California Assembly Bill 604 was signed into law Jan. 1 2016 and for the most part allows electric skateboards wherever bikes are allowed.

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