The Cop Column
September, 2003
Sgt. Rick Hord, Public Information Officer

Can You Ride That Thing on the Road?

Mopeds, go-peds, electric scooters, golf carts, bicycles... some parents purchase these items for children who are not yet old enough to drive.

Where and by whom may these vehicles be operated? We'll try to clear up those questions.

* You must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver license to operate any vehicle with a motor on public roads. That means a 15 year old is not allowed to operate a go-ped, moped, or similar device on the roads.

* Golf carts. Local city and counties may designate certain roads for use by golf carts. If that is done, the road must be posted with appropriate signs. The minimum age to operate a golf cart on such a road is 14... no license required. This process is available only for golf carts, not mopeds, go-peds or other vehicles.

*Bicycles may use bicycle paths, sidewalks, or roads. On the road, bicyclists must drive on the right side of the road with other traffic (do not ride facing oncoming cars), and must obey all traffic laws. On sidewalks, bicyclists must yield to pedestrians, and must sound a horn or bell before overtaking and passing a pedestrian. Of course, bicyclists under age 16 must wear helmets.

*On the subject of sidewalks and bicycle paths: mopeds, go-peds and other motorized vehicles are not allowed. Quoting the law verbatim: "No person shall drive any vehicle other than by human power upon a bicycle path, sidewalk, or sidewalk area..." There is, however, one exception: "electric personal mobility devices" are allowed on sidewalks.

*Electric personal mobility device is a new critter in the law. It's "Any self-balancing, two-nontandem-wheeled device, designed to carry only one person, with an electric propulsion system with average power of 750 watts (1 horsepower), the maximum speed of which, on a paved level surface when powered solely by such a propulsion system while being ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 miles per hour." With that mouthful, it sounds to me like the legislature had in mind the Segway transporter. The rules for it are very similar to those for bicycles. If you have one, you may operate it on sidewalks, bicycle paths, or roads where the speed limit is 25 or less. No license is required; riders under 16 must wear a helmet.

*Mopeds. There's some apparently contradictory language in the law. Riders under 16 are required to wear a helmet, and nobody under 16 may rent a moped. The problem is, where is someone under 16 going to ride a moped? If you're using the motor, you need a driver license to operate it on the road, and it's not allowed on sidewalks or bicycle paths at all.

*Go-peds, also known as motorized scooters. The law does not no mention any helmet requirement... but, again, if you're using the motor, they're not legal on sidewalks or bike paths... and you need a driver license to operate them on the road.