Smart balance wheels is the new mobility trend – Police say residents can use it on pavements but not on the road
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There’s a “smarter” way of moving short distances nowadays, enthusiasts say, and it is taking Dubai by storm: smart balance wheels.
The smart balance wheel resembles a skateboard or a mini Segway without the handle and is becoming increasingly popular among the younger population in Dubai. The battery-powered board moves according to the user’s weight distribution.
To move forward, for example, the user only needs to lean forward. To slow down, stop or move backwards, the user has to lean back. The same principle applies when the user wants to turn left or right. If a person loses control of the board, he can safely jump off it like one gets off a skateboard.
Dubai resident Jorge Noel Tamayo, 42, bought a smart balance wheel for his son’s 11th birthday in a popular mall in Dubai two weeks ago. He said his son rooted for it after seeing his friend using one.
“Riding it is similar to using a skateboard or roller-skates. It’s all about balancing your weight,” the Filipino expatriate told Gulf News. “I bought one for my son but I myself would like to buy one to use at work because I always walk long distances inside our factory.”
When someone is walking leisurely, his average speed is about 5km/h. But using a smart balance wheel gives one a speed of between 10km/h and 12km/h.
“It can go fast but it has built-in safety features that warn the user to slow down when he or she is going very fast. I make sure my son only uses it when we are around,” Tamayo said.
“When I’m on it, I feel like I’m [floating] in the air,” Tamayo’s son, John Dustin, 11, said.
Although the board can be bought online and in malls, not all malls allow people to use it in their premises, which is a problem, Tamayo said.
Gulf News contacted several malls in the city about their regulations on the use of the smart balance wheel but they did not comment. A security guard in one of the malls said mall-goers should not use it inside the mall premises as the mall “is not a playground”.
Mohammad Hassan Al Fardan, Head of Parks and Recreation Section of the Public Parks and Horticulture Department at Dubai Municipality, said residents can use the board in Dubai’s parks instead.
“We will allow it in parks but only in designated areas. We are not allowing these smart boards in some places like jogging tracks and sports facilities,” Al Fardan told Gulf News.
Al Fardan, who also owns a smart balance wheel along with his two children, said there are areas in parks that have signboards barring the use of skateboards. Smart balance wheels are categorized under skateboards. But he said residents can still use their balance wheels in sections in the park where skateboards are allowed.
Al Fardan also reminded enthusiasts to use the balance wheels responsibly and safely.
“It is the responsibility of the person using it. He is not allowed to give it to somebody else or rent it,” Al Fardan said.
Colonel Jamal Al Bannai, Acting Director of Dubai Traffic Police, said residents and tourists can use the balance wheel as long as they use it in designated areas.
“We treat them [people with balance wheels] as pedestrians — as long as they’re on the pavements, they are fine. They will only be fined if they cross from undesignated areas in cases like jaywalking,” Col Al Bannai said.
Around the world, personal mobility is changing and the use of smart balance wheels is just the beginning. Many other types of self-balancing boards, hover boards, and WalkCars are being launched internationally