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Parents cautioned about motorized bicycles

Thursday, September 23, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY -- The Missouri State Highway Patrol is reminding parents it is illegal to operate motorized bicycles on public streets and highways unless the operator has a driver's license.

This applies to the newly popular mini-motorcycles also. A motorized bicycle is defined as any two-wheeled or three-wheeled device having an automatic transmission and a motor with cylinder capacity of not more than 50 cubic centimeters, which produces less than three gross brake horsepower, and is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than 30 mph on level ground. Missouri law states that motorized bicycles, commonly referred to as scooters, can be operated on public streets and highways if the driver holds a valid license.

"If your child can't legally drive a car, he can't drive a motorized bicycle on the road," said Capt. Christian T. Ricks of the Patrol.

The motorized scooter is being marketed as a toy, and sold to the youth of our communities, according to the Patrol. Anytime one of these devices is operated on a Missouri roadway (city street, county road, or state highway), they must abide by the same laws governing a motor vehicle (i.e.: stopping at posted STOP signs, driving on the right-side of the roadway, yielding to approaching traffic when turning left, and not exceeding the posted speed limit).

This makes the case that the motorized scooter and mini-motorcycle truly is not a toy.

"Allowing a young person to travel via motorized bicycle or mini-motorcycle may seem convenient to some parents. Or, perhaps parents see it as something 'fun' for their child to own," Ricks said.

Law enforcement officers who respond to traffic crashes involving these "vehicles" have a different viewpoint, Ricks said. These types of vehicles are hard to see and offer no crash protection. Drivers of mini-motorcycles and motorized bicycles are encouraged to wear an approved helmet.

Motorized bicycles and mini-motorcycles that have a motor with a cylinder capacity of more than 50cc and/or the ability to travel faster than 30 mph on level ground are -- by law -- defined as motorcycles. As such, these types of vehicles must abide by all of the state laws pertaining to motorcycles.

"Parents, allowing your child or ward under age 16 to operate a motorized bicycle or mini-motorcycle on a roadway is prohibited by law," Ricks said. "Help keep your children safe, obey the law."