With every tech boom, we get an awkward and doomed walking replacement. First there was Segway, heralded by Steve Jobs as being "as big a deal as the PC" and now strictly used by gross tourists and mall cops. Now, San Francisco's "tech hipsters" are tooling around town on "self-balancing unicycles."
"You get a lot of looks, and you will be the center of attention," brags the SBUs' pitchman, somehow missing that riders will be getting stares for all the wrong reasons.
As you might imagine, these things, which are basically the social equivalent of Google Glass for your feet, are a hit with the code jockeys behind Silicon Valley's hottest companies. The motorized unicycle's marketing team targets people "that are just out of college" and notes that that Twitter, Google, and Facebook employees are "really in love with the product because they are early adopters."
Those one-wheeled weirdos can often be found gliding through the Mission District—Silicon Valley's preferred bedroom community—topping out their disrupted Segways at 12.5 miles per hour on local sidewalks.
But as SFist notes, those low speeds could leave SBUs without a safe and legal place to ride:
[It] might be a bit scary to try to ride in the flow of vehicle traffic, though we certainly encourage these folks to try. It's also unlikely they'll be welcomed onto San Francisco's sidewalks, which don't allow vehicles like motorized skateboards and the afore-compared Segway.
That just leaves the bike lanes, in which Segways are apparently allowed. Will we soon see a motorized-unicycle-riding-hipster-techie showdown with a salt-of-the-earth-cyclist on Valencia?
It seems certain that SBU riders are destined for their very own Sarah Slocum-level meltdown. But if techies ever find themselves too embarrassed to get around on a unimotorcycle, they can always pick up this sweet combination backpack-skateboard.