Responsible Riding 101
With electric unicycles picking up steam across the country, it's important for all of us early adopters to remember that we are the ones setting example and making first impressions almost every day. The way we ride will affect not only public perception, but our legal standing in countless public and private spaces.
So what can we do to make sure that our way of life is not only protected legally, but also encouraged as a way to live a more convenient and car-free life? Let's go over the basics first.
Follow your local laws
These vary by state and city, but as a general rule, don’t do anything a pedestrian, bike, or scooter isn’t allowed do in any given situation. For example, if riding a bike on the sidewalk is not allowed in your town, you probably shouldn't ride your electric unicycle there either. Always wear legally required safety gear such as helmets. Many cities are cracking down on their respective laws and will ticket accordingly.
Sidewalk & Pedestrian Etiquette
Remember that we are always sharing the sidewalk with our friends afoot! We must always be respectful of their space and slower rate of travel. This means the burden is on us to adjust our speed and path any time we encounter pedestrians.
Slow your roll: when pedestrians are present, slow your speed to a fast walking speed if you intend to pass them.
Passing from behind: always give a friendly notice as to not frighten the pedestrian. Remember our electric unicycles are very quiet!
Walk around: if the path is congested ahead, step off your ride and walk around. It is not the responsibility of pedestrians or crowds to clear a path for you.
Keep your distance: never swerve around people or property by cutting too close. No matter how skilled you may be, you can't control the unexpected.
Use caution around storefronts: never ride alongside doorways too closely. It’s very common for pedestrians to quickly emerge from doorways without looking, and some businesses have doors that open into the sidewalk space.
Crosswalks, Garage Doors, & Alleyways: Slow down and look both ways before entering any of these spaces. Drivers do not expect anyone on the sidewalk to be moving faster than walking speed, so always slow down when approaching any space that may have car traffic.
Because electric unicycles are such a new thing, many drivers may not know they must adjust in order to accommodate you. Here are some tips for making your experience on the road safer:
Create some sound: Electric unicycles are quiet machines, so a driver who has never seen one has no idea how fast they can go. By playing music while you’re riding, you can alert drivers that you are there. If you do not want to play music, having a bike bell or some equivalent alert system will help drivers hear you.
Ride defensively: Unless you are in a designated bike lane, keep in mind that you are sharing the road with 2-ton vehicles that can hurt you if you collide. Safety first. If you think a car might merge in front of you or open a door, slow your roll.
Use a helmet: Even if helmets are not legally required in your jurisdiction, it’s always a good idea to wear a helmet if you are going on the road. Get a helmet that does not block out sound so you can hear your surrounding and the beep your wheel may make if you’re pushing its limits.
Let's keep the conversation going! What else can / should we all be doing to be as courteous and safe as possible towards others that share our riding space?