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Legislative Effort - Motorized Skateboards Take Center Stage
Assemblymember Kristin Olsen and Riverbank Mayor Richard OBrien took the Zboard for a test drive at a press conference to unveil a bill that would legalize electrically motorized skateboards like the Zboard. - photo by Assembly Republican Caucus

A press conference was held in Sacramento on Tuesday, March 11 to introduce Assembly Bill 2054 that would permit electrically motorized skateboards to be used throughout California. This bill was authored by local Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, after touring the Riverbank Industrial Complex and meeting the owners of Intuitive Motion, Geoff Larson and Ben Foreman, who created the Zboard. Olsen represents the 12th Assembly District, which covers portions of Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.

The Zboard is an electrically motorized longboard skateboard that charges after a couple of hours and was created as a mode of transportation for short range commuting.

In 1977 the state outlawed motorized skateboards because at that time they were two cycle motors that were gas powered, very loud and went too fast.

“Since that time obviously technology has improved tremendously and these Zboards that are being built right here in our own community of Riverbank are silent, they emit zero emissions and they really are the perfect solution for short commutes,” said Olsen.

“We feel that it is a very antiquated law,” added Larson. “So right now it is sort of a gray area for electric skateboards that is tolerated here (in California) but we want to close that gap and just define it and give it some context that allows people to use these products.”

The electronically motorized skateboards would be limited to bike paths, bike lanes, and bike trails subject to the same safety requirements under the proposed bill.

“It is a very simple bill that amends the vehicle code to allow the use of electrically motorized skateboards throughout California anywhere those bicycles or motorized bicycles can be used today,” explained Olsen.

The bill will be presented to a committee in late April and in the meantime Olsen’s team will be working on rounding up support from organizations and legislators to show a strong bipartisan coalition of support for the committee hearing.

“I already have both Republican and Democrat legislators who have joined on in authorship, which will help its passage and we’re meeting with a variety of constituencies in hopes that we can get this bill done and signed and into law which would become law next Jan. 1,” said Olsen. “It’s really exciting that we have such an innovative product being built right here in Riverbank, California and yet how ironic is it that they can build a product here but they can’t really grow and expand here until we are able to change the law and this is a simple thing that we can do that will create jobs in our community and also provides a clean, safe option for short commutes in transportation.”

The longboard platform was not made to be flipped like a traditional skateboard. The Zboard moves based on how you shift your weight and the boards can hit speeds up to 18 mph depending on which model is selected.

“It’s about getting from Point A to Point B efficiently,” said Larson. “There is still definitely a learning curve but it is something that you can gradually work up in.”

Larson explained that his mother, who is in her 60s, was demonstrating the board in the background when he was speaking at the conference in Sacramento. Olsen and Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien also got to ride the Zboards at the conference.

“They are very safe, they’re clean, they’re efficient and we need to make sure that industries like this can thrive in the state of California,” said Olsen. “We’re known as the state of innovation.

“We should be able to make sure our laws align with the ability to create and innovate new products.”

O’Brien enjoyed the experience of riding the Zboard in Sacramento and is appreciative that Intuitive Motion is continuing to remain in Riverbank even though the state is not yet welcoming their product.

“With Kristin Olsen taking it on, I think they will remain in Riverbank for a long time which is good for Riverbank,” said O’Brien. “They brought their innovation and entrepreneurial abilities and bring us the ‘cool’ factor.”

Olsen expressed that she is hopeful that Riverbank residents will attend the first hearing along with users of the board and the owners of the company.

“You know it’s not the answer for everybody but we should provide it as an option for people,” said Olsen. “I think people in the Capitol community really enjoyed learning more about what they are and how to use them.”

“It’s an industry that is growing rapidly and an issue that will need to be addressed,” said Larson.

There are other electric skateboard companies in California that would benefit from passage of the bill as well.

The bill will have to pass through the first committee of the full assembly and if it clears passage there then it will repeat the process in the senate. If the bill passes, it will become law in January, 2015.