The age of practical, affordable and efficient electric transport is here. In the world of cars things are going electric rapidly. We even have electric motorcycles now, but if you ask me the big revolution is in personal transport is personal. That is, personal electric transports.
If you’re an urban resident and have to commute only a few miles, then you can skip both the effort of human-powered vehicles and the hassle of traffic while using a car. Instead you can get a good hoverboard, electric longboard, unicycle or several other variations on the idea.
New technologies don’t just bring new benefits however. They also come with new dangers. So here are some general safety tips to make your ride that much safer.
1.Read the Manual
I know, I know. What’s more lame than cracking open the manual and reading all that boring stuff when you can hop on and start riding immediately? Unfortunately you’re taking quite a big risk by getting on a vehicle you don’t fully understand.
With personal electric transports its even more important. While two hoverboards might look the same, they will probably behave differently depending on how they are programmed. Different manufacturers have different approaches to handling things like low battery situations, system failures and speed control. The last thing you want is for your machine to do something unexpected.
2.Do a Pre-trip Inspection
While your electric transport might not be as complex as a car, you still need to make sure its in good working order before you get on and ride off. If your machine has warning indicator lights, make sure none are lit. If you can get access to the battery, check if it’s damaged, deformed or swollen. Inspect the tire surface carefully for any damage, wear or other warning signs. If the tires are pneumatic, make sure they are inflated to the correct level. Make sure there’s no loose trim, loose wheel hubs or any other parts that should be properly attached, but aren’t
3.Wear Safety Gear
If nothing else, you should wear a helmet when using any electrical personal transport. Specifically, you should use one that provides protection to the back of the head. Multisport or skateboard helmets are a good choice, since they are designed to protect the same sorts of backwards-falling injuries you might get from a hoverboard or electric unicycle.
It’s also a good idea to wear elbow and knee pads, but this isn’t always practical. Luckily there are now alternatives to bulky hard pads. For example, the G-form range of pads are soft and can be worn under clothes, but harden immediately upon impact, protecting your joints.
4.Don’t Ride in the Rain
Most electric personal transports aren’t waterproof and you’ll wreck them pretty quickly if you ride them through the rain or puddles. Even if your particular machine is waterproof, I still don’t recommend riding in wet conditions. Electric motors have strong torque curves and you might find yourself slipping to a broken neck much more easily than you’d expect.It’s better to wait it out or take a cab.
5.Choose Your Terrain Carefully
It’s not just wet surfaces that present a challenge. Even on a dry day you might be done in by loose sand, bumps in the sidewalk and small twigs. Hoverboards have poort ground clearance. Electric skateboards have smooth wheels. Electric unicycles are just dangerous all round.
Unless you know exactly what you are doing it’s also a good idea to stop and get off before transitioning from the road to the pavement, for example. A lot of accidents happen when moving from one type of terrain to another.
The same goes for inclines. Don’t be too ambitious when going up or down and incline. Your device will be rated for a certain grade and if you go over that it could throw you off or otherwise cause a fall due to failure.
6. Ride Defensively
While taking a ride is fun and relaxing, you can’t afford to zone out! It’s best to practice a defensive approach when riding these vehicles. What that means is that you should exercise control over the space immediately around you. Don’t stare off into space when there are obstacles, animals, people and who knows what else entering the six-foot radius around you.
Remember, people might find your speed and movement surprising, so make sure you see them before they do something unpredictable.
7.Plan Your Route
Make sure you ride through areas that are relatively safe. Plan the route so that you have enough charge to get where you need to go. This includes taking into account where you might switch to a bus or other mode of transport. The last thing you want to do is get stranded in a potentially dangerous spot.
8. Check Your Speed
Many of these electric rideables are fast. Certainly too fast for the sidewalk or certain other public spaces. Make sure you know how to control your speed and stick to a sensible pace. Going to fast can lead to a loss of control, more serious injuries of you do fall and you might run out of juice too soon.
9. Practice, Practice, Practice
The most important thing you can do to maximise the safety of your ride is to become a skilled rider. You need to be in full control of your vehicle so that you can operate it in an emergency safely and know how to handle the various hazards you can face while out and about.
So it’s a good idea to find a space where there are no people or other potential hazards and practice until you feel completely comfortable operating the vehicle. Some machines are going to need more practice than others before you’re good to go. Electric unicycles in particular are notoriously tricky to learn. Stick with it until you’re competent enough not to endanger yourself in the wild.