Cucumber provides a high level language abstraction that we've never really utilized for its intended purpose of collaboration, and in most cases the natural language simply adds an unnecessary layer of indirection. The obtuseness of Cucumber's unidiomatic step definition framework also tends to lead to confusion and, I believe, misattribution of the difficulties of writing browser tests to Ruby itself.
I'd like to explore using a lightweight and more idiomatic runner (probably just bare RSpec) to facilitate tests that are "flatter" (implementation alongside description) and therefore likely easier to implement and reason about. MW-Selenium 1.x was heavily refactored to be as modular and runner agnostic as possible. It shouldn't be much work to decouple any remaining bits and implement an RSpec based harness.
At the very least, I think this exercise will help to validate whether it's Ruby or Cucumber that is the biggest barrier to entry (or possibly PageObject, Watir, etc.).