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Electric unicyclists are having a very good, illegal time in NYC

They share a university vision.

Navigating Gotham’s gloomy streets and gridlocked traffic on an electric unicycle might not be everyone’s idea of ​​Nirvana.

But don’t tell that to the 200-strong gang of electric unicyclists who meet for a cruise after a nice cup of Sesame Wow Milk or Cocoa Lava Slush at the East Village’s Kung Fu Tea Shop.

In June 2020, the city council passed legislation to legalize electric bicycles and scooters.

However, electric unicycles are illegal in New York City, the NYPD confirmed, but the people who ride them insist they’re not out for trouble.

“We just want to get around like everyone else in town,” said Paul Engle, 43, who is from Southern California. “We stick to the rules. … We need less space in a city of eight million people. We’re just looking for the gaps, man.”

Members of the Electric Unicycle Collection gather at St Marks Place for a leisure ride.
Members of the Electric Unicycle Collection gather at St Marks Place for a leisure ride.
Helayne Seidman for the NY Post

Engle talks about one-wheeling like a surfer catching the perfect wave. “In the beginning it was a hobby. It was just something to do. Very quickly it became a way of life. There’s something about the absolute presence that it takes to ride one of these animals in the world that’s meditative and therapeutic,” he said.

Other enthusiasts have traveled from further afield – even from Canada and Malaysia – to cheer on the tiny Bubble Team emporium on St Mark’s Place.

“Some people look at us like we’re from outer space,” said electric unicycle rider August Hill, 33, and the NYPD may agree, calling the devices illegal despite their growing ubiquity.

August Hill from Manhattan does a few laps before a ride with the Collective.
August Hill from Manhattan does a few laps before a ride with the Collective.
Helayne Seidman for the NY Post

Unlike an e-scooter or e-bike, there are no handlebars on motorized unicycles. The battery-rechargeable unicycle gizmos are compact and some are even light enough to carry.

The driver sits on footrests astride the bike and – similar to a Segway – steers the vehicle and moves it by skilfully shifting his weight.

And they’re gaining ground on the city’s congested streets with other modes of transportation, claims Hill, a Manhattan resident, adding that he had his own epiphany about five years ago while lamenting another torturous journey across the city.

Electric unicycles are still illegal in New York City.
Electric unicycles are still illegal in New York City.
Helayne Seidman for the NY Post

“I was sitting on 34th Street thinking about what my life should be like when a guy on an electric unicycle zoomed past me and that was it,” said the former director of logistics, adding that he started with a small bike , but have since graduated “Bigger, more robust machines… I am now in charge of my time and can be wherever I want to be. It makes the world so much smaller and more accessible.”

Hill claimed that a rush hour drive from Lower Manhattan to Harlem could take 90 minutes. “It needs us [electric unicyclists] about 15 to 20 minutes,” he boasted.

The electric unicycles generally weigh between 35 and 80 pounds and some can zoom up to 60 mph, Hill said, adding that a reliable ride costs between $1,500 and $4,000.

Hill and Engle founded True2One, an “organized group of personal electric vehicle (PEV) enthusiasts who share a passion for driving, community and PEV culture.” The group has its own Instagram page with nearly 8,000 followers.

Father-daughter riding team Patrick Robert and Mia prepare for a ride.
The father-daughter team Patrick Robert and Mia prepare for a ride.
Helayne Seidman for the NY Post

The kung fu tea shop became their headquarters after the owner, a friend, also got the unicycle bug and gave the growing unicycle community “a place to sit and store their chargers and charge their bikes,” he said Hill.

Hill said the exercise is for someone to create a flyer and post it on social media.

“When we drive, the leader has a plan for where we’re going,” he explained, adding that last week a group of Canadians took part in a drive that went from Lower Manhattan along the West Side Highway to Harlem, to Randalls Island and then back to Lexington Avenue. The walk started and ended at St Marks Place tea shop.

“The trips are spontaneous. Someone can do a ride in an hour and have people there,” Hill said, adding that the group makes about 14 rides each week.

The big gathering, The Broadway Bomb, is slated for October, and the plan is, yes, a trip that “will take attendees down Broadway,” Hill said.

https://nypost.com/2022/06/25/electric-unicyclists-are-having-a-wheely-good-albeit-illegal-time-in-nyc/ Electric unicyclists are having a very good, illegal time in NYC

JACLYN DIAZ

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