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Hoverboards a Growing Campus Nuisance

NEW TECH A PEDESTRIAN PAIN

It’s refreshing to be able to commute to Auraria Campus without needing to own a car, truck, or SUV. This is a great advantage for urban and suburban living, but most bus and train stops are still blocks away from many people’s destinations.

It’s useful then to be able to get from point A to point B on bicycles, skateboards, and other such self-propelled vehicles—but these often don’t mix well with people on sidewalks. While there are noticeable issues combining these vehicles with walking traffic, the recent craze of hoverboards has exacerbated things with a new, negative social image in tow.

Hoverboards, or smart balancing electric scooters, are very convenient for those who use them. Based on similar self-balancing technology as the iconic Segway, their true origin is vague. Though assuredly developed in China, multiple companies produced designs and released similar products at about the same time in mid to late 2014.

There is speculation that a company called Chic Robotics was the first to produce them, but any uniform concept of design, size, weight, or even a technical name is hard to pinpoint to any one source.

Hoverboards add a new level of electronic complexity to the intermingling of similar small-wheeled vehicles and walking pedestrians. It’s a matter of disrespect and self-appointed importance that leads bikers, skaters, and now hoverboarders to weave dangerously in and out of groups of people.

Especially on Auraria campus and parts of downtown Denver, foot traffic is king and disruptions are not taken kindly—it’s just that most people are likely too polite to ask someone to dismount lest they cause injury.

There are no signs on Auraria Campus that specifically prohibit the use of hoverboards. The parallel between them and other small-wheeled vehicles is conveniently forgotten and some operators can be seen scooting about within academic buildings. Other times, they can be seen vaping or texting while operating these motor vehicles. Along with angsty skater punks, hoverboard operators are building an increasingly negative social image for themselves.

Costing anywhere from $300-600, hoverboards carry a price tag nearly as heavy as the 20-25 pounds of the scooter itself. Because of this cost, those who own them can be identified as being spoiled or irresponsible as they waste money that should be going towards housing, food, or student loans rather than a frivolous trinket. While this identification may be incorrect, the social image is made and will pervade.

The use of small-wheeled traffic on Auraria Campus causes a significant disturbance and prohibitive signage has been posted for a reason. Despite the seemingly universal agreement by most campus students and staff to behave within a certain social construct, many others continue to operate within the taboo. Hoverboards are no exception and negative associations will perpetuate as long as the representative few who can afford them continue to bend the rules and disregard others.

—Casey Temple

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