Recently i created a petition to get Florida to recognize electric skateboards as a legitimate commuter vehicle and allow them anywhere a bicycle is allowed. That means paved bike paths and bike lanes. I would like to encourage you to go sign it at http://esk8.me/petition.
What i would like to address in this post is my intent, as well as .. well.. what an electric skateboard actually is and why i'm trying to do this. There seems to be an awful lot of ignorance on the subject, as well as vitriol and threats of violence from bicycle trolls who don't actually have any idea what this means for them specifically and have chosen to spew hatred and contempt in lieu of educating themselves. Its a sad day indeed.
Simply put, my intent is to share the bike lane on busy roads that don't have decent sidewalks and also be explicitly allowed on paved bike paths.
To a person who rides a bicycle to work or maybe as their job, that may seem like some kind of threat to their happiness or safety. Suddenly they have to share their lane, that they feel entitled to in some way, probably simply because its called a bike lane and they're on a bike, with some guy on a board who's probably just going to clog things up and get somebody killed. I get it. Its just that they probably don't have the whole story and are saying these things in ignorance.
What i'm going to do in this post is address a few specific issue that have been brought to my attention. I'm also going to explain exactly what an electric skateboard is and what it is not so we all know what it is we're talking about here.
What an electric skateboard actually is
An electric skateboard is a four wheeled device based on a traditional skateboard or longboard. Most often they are actual longboards and simply have the addition of motors, batteries, and some sort of hand-held speed controller. The rider stands on them like they would any other skateboard. The only difference between these and regular skateboards or longboards is the motors and wheels and occasionally a few specific design considerations.
The ones I build for my customers are based on technology used in professional downhill skateboarding. They are fast and loaded with premium components that are actually used by downhill and other professional long boarders. They are capable of speeds that can meet or exceed that of expensive street bicycles, take up a smaller footprint, and have ranges anywhere from 20 to 30 miles. When i say they're fast, I'm talking they can sustain 30mph and faster speeds, often topping out at above 35mph.
With those kinds of performance specs in mind, things might look a little different to a cyclist. Most cyclists on a commute probably aren't going to exceed 25 mph sustained, and given that 20-25mph is the cruising speed of most high end commercial boards as well as my own, it starts to seem like maybe they belong together. Something like that certainly doesn't belong on a sidewalk any more than a high quality road bike does.
So just to be clear, we are not talking about hoverboards or segways or one-wheels or any of that stuff. We're talking about a long range high performance personal electric vehicle that matches the footprint and speed characteristics of a cyclist on a high quality road bike.
Things People are saying:
I'm hearing all kinds of interesting questions and comments. I've decided to address the more common ones here. Below is a list of things that people have actually said to me, so i'm not just pulling things out of my butt. I feel like they reflect the general level of awareness and affection surrounding esk8s, so i'm not going to water them down.
What's the point of having motors on a skateboard? Doesn't that just take the fun out of it?
No, it does not. For longboarders who ride for more than just pleasure, it strips everything but the fun out of it. If you are already riding a longboard as a means of travel or commuting, now you can do it without getting sweaty. Not having to push isn't a bad thing, and being able to accelerate up hills is nothing but fun.
Who would want to commute on a longboard? Just get a car.
People who are environmentally conscious individuals who would prefer not to contribute to the pile of greenhouse gasses already in the atmosphere just so they can get a few miles down the road. People who are looking for a more exhilarating way to get around town. People who for whatever reason, have decided that a car or bicycle or whatever else just isn't for them, as is their right. Never mind the absolute arrogance of such a statement.
People on electric skateboards are just lazy.
By that logic, people in cars are just lazy. People on busses are lazy. People should just walk everywhere and stop being so lazy. Anyone who doesn't agree with you has some kind of problem. I get it. I suppose if you're standing on a stick with wheels and you don't have to push it, you're somehow cheating and deserve to be chastised like a child.
It takes more skill and more awareness to ride an esk8 than you might think. Lazy never enters the picture. Lazy would be not taking the time and effort to learn how to do something new and interesting and just getting into your car like you always have.
There's also a whole other aspect to this. Some people simply can't push a board anymore because of injuries. However, they are able to maintain a stance and ride with no issue and do so for long periods of time.
Longboards and whatever don't belong in bike lanes. Bikes belong in bike lanes. Now GTFO!
Alternative transportation methods are happening regardless of your own personal politics. Hostility isn't going to eliminate the situation. That crazy horseless carriage is real, we really do hang in the air in tin cans with wings, gasoline really is going away little by little, money actually is mostly electronic now, and personal electric vehicles are happening. You're desire to own the entire strip of asphalt designated for bicycles and keep it all to yourself is irrelevant.
Just stick to the sidewalks and stay out of the streets.
Sidewalks are not always the best option. Sidewalk availability is still an issue on busy four lane roads in some areas where bike lanes exist. Sidewalks also put more wear and tear on skateboards and longboards than asphalt does. Maybe cyclists should stick to the sidewalks? That idea is silly though, right? When you consider the performance characteristics of most esk8s, the sidewalk makes very little sense on main roads when a bike lane is available and almost no sense at all in neighborhood streets. So instead of using a lane that's designed for smaller, one person vehicles that are slower than cars and faster than people in which we can mesh perfectly with bicycle traffic, we're supposed to clack clack clack down a sidewalk filled with people walking their dogs and waiting for the bus. Gotcha.
If i see you in the bike lane i'm knocking your ass over lolololololol
Thank you for that. Your well articulated and compassionate argument will not go unconsidered. Don't you have some call of duty to play or women to hate or guns to clean or something? Stop trolling my page.
Skateboards shouldn't be allowed in bike lanes because of road debris and potholes and cracks and stuff, you could go flying off into traffic or get some cyclist killed.
That's almost a fair statement. If when you hear the term "skateboard" you think of the small wheeled boards that people do flip tricks on at skate parks, obviously this is a logical conclusion. And most people think that when they hear the term. Those boards would totally street your face if they hit a stick or rock or piece of a tire. Which is precisely why we use larger wheels. 80mm wheels are about the smallest ones you will ever find on any electric skateboard, commercial or boutique. With the larger wheels and higher speeds, rocks, pebbles, and bits of debris become of little concern. So why the comment about sidewalk cracks earlier and the wear they provide on boards? Because constant steadily pulsed vibration provided by regularly spaced sidewalks gaps is the killer, not occasional thumping over a rock or piece of tire.
Never mind that a cyclist could just as easily lose control over an unexpected piece of debris and fly into traffic.
Maybe if bicycles can figure out that they have to stop at lights, stops signs, etc, then we can discuss more things in those lanes.
By that logic we shouldn't even have bike lanes yet because drivers of cars can't seem to figure out stop signs or traffic lights or pedestrian crosswalks either, or so it seems. That's part of the reason I'm trying to raise awareness. Esk8s shouldn't be excluded from bike lanes simply because drivers of cars can't seem to stop almost hitting or hitting cyclists that ignore traffic signals or think traffic law doesn't apply to them. If we want to be hit by cars too, that's our decision. This is just another way of saying that cyclists have enough to worry about without having to share their lane with some new fangled thing. A cyclist's bad behavior should be rewarded with tickets, which is totally a separate issue.
I'm all for it when bikes can go everywhere skateboards can i.e. The hundreds of no bikes allowed skateparks.
That's not what this is about. First of all we're not talking about park boards. You know what else generally isn't allowed in a skate park? Electric skateboards. But if you want to make it about that, feel free to call around and learn that most skateparks have posted time slots for BMX and Freestyle bikes on their ramps and bowls.
Think about it. You know it makes sense.
Drivers have been told they have to share the road with cyclists. Now I'm asking cyclists to share the lane with esk8ers. I don't think its too much to ask. Electric skateboards can mesh well with bicycle traffic and provide an enjoyable alternative mode of transportation. Forcing us to stay on side roads and sidewalks is not going to help us move forward in an age when people are trying to find the best mode of transportation for them personally and are considering all available options.
So just sign it and help some people out. It won't be the end of the world, I promise. http://esk8.me/petition