If you've seen a man riding what looks to be an electric skateboard around downtown Rochester lately, don't be alarmed. He has experience. And a medical background. (Not that anything could possibly go wrong on an electric skateboard.)
The man in question is likely Bradley Leibovich, M.D., chair of Mayo Clinic's Department of Urology in Rochester, and that thing he's riding is a Onewheel, "a self-balancing electric board-sport, recreational personal transporter," according to the company's website. "I've been keeping an eye on these things for quite a long time," Dr. Leibovich tells us. "I had to wait until they came out with a smaller version that would fit inside my surgeon's locker at Saint Marys."
Dr. Leibovich's wait ended when Onewheel introduced its pint-sized Pint model. Featuring the same bells and whistles of larger models, the Pint, with its top speed of 16 miles per hour and six- to eight-mile battery range, was just what Dr. Leibovich had been looking for. "I grew up riding skateboards, and I wanted something that I could go back and forth to work with that didn't burn fossil fuels and that would also be fun and wouldn't get me to work all sweaty and exhausted," he tells us. "It's a tremendous amount of fun and a lot faster than walking."
Dr. Leibovich tells us learning to ride his new Onewheel has been easier than expected. "I actually worried at first that I'd wasted my money buying this thing because I thought it might be prohibitively difficult to ride, but it's remarkably easy," he says. "You basically just stand on the board — there are no controllers or anything. If you want to go forward, you just put more weight on your front foot and it starts to accelerate. The more you lean forward, the faster it goes. The more you lean back, the more it slows down."
Stopping and turning are also easy-peasy. "It brakes itself, so if you're going down a hill and leaning back, it will slow down," Dr. Leibovich tells us. "You turn it just like you would a snowboard, wakeboard or skateboard. The learning curve is not steep."
Dr. Leibovich tells us the reactions he's received from onlookers have so far been … well, mixed. "Some people think it's fun, others think it's ridiculously stupid," he says. There have also been some converts along the way. "I've had a whole bunch of people say, 'Hey, can I give that thing a try?'"
People like fellow Department of Urology surgeon (and Mayo ninja) Candace Granberg, M.D., who recently received a Onewheel riding lesson from Dr. Leibovich in a parking lot (coincidentally enough) next to the Emergency Department at the Saint Marys Campus of Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester. "It was pretty awesome," Dr. Granberg tells us. So awesome, in fact, that she's now eagerly awaiting the delivery of her very own Onewheel Pint later this month.
Dr. Granberg — much like Dr. Leibovich — tells us in addition to "just being fun," occasionally riding her Onewheel to work will be her way of contributing to Mayo Clinic's commitment to environmental sustainability. "By making small changes like this collectively we really can make a positive impact on the environment," she says.
You can watch video of Dr. Granberg testing out Dr. Leibovich's Onewheel here. Then go ahead and test us by sharing your comments below before using the handy social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.