Story from the Arizona Republic; I copied the whole thing because it was only a few sentences long (my emphasis added):
Woman dies when motorized bike collides with car in Phoenix
by Jack Highberger – Jan. 20, 2011 12:26 PM The Arizona Republic-12 News Breaking News Team
A 53-year-old woman died Tuesday night (1/18/2011) when her motorized bicycle collided with a car on Dunlap and 25th avenues.
The woman was driving the motorized bicycle on a sidewalk when she entered the crosswalk and collided with the car, said Sgt. Tommy Thompson of the Phoenix Police Department.
She was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.
She was taken to the hospital where she later died. The driver of the car, who is also a 53-year-old woman, was not charged by Phoenix police. Authorities said it’s illegal to operate a motorized vehicle on a sidewalk.
First off, let me say that this type of collision is pretty common, and it is exactly why sidewalk cycling, motorized or not, is not recommended. But is it illegal?
I have written before on the tangled thicket that is the motorized bicycle law, see these two articles for background, definitions, and laws:
And since it involves a sidewalk/crosswalk, see also:
So, Is it Illegal to ride a Motorized Bicycle on the Sidewalk in Phoenix?
Preface: as things turn out, this particular collision did not involve any riding in the crosswalk, see analysis of crash data, below.
Short answer: probably not.
The law alluded to by “Authorities” is presumably Phoenix Sec. 36-63 ”No person shall drive upon, across or within any sidewalk…”. Or perhaps its companion in the ARS §28-904 which is a little different: “A person shall not drive a vehicle on a sidewalk”. But exactly how or if that applies to motorized bicycles is highly questionable.
The city attorney really ought to look at it — with all due respect to the police, I think this may be a case where they are just speaking off the top of their heads without actually considering the law.
This feels like another one of those issues that will never be gotten to the bottom of.
Phoenix has no (none i can find) ordinance specifically controlling motorized bicycles. Contrast this to, for example, the city of Tucson, which bans both plain-old bicycles generally, as well as a specific ordinance that specifically bans motorized bicycles from sidewalks.
So since there is no specific city ordinance, it would fall back to bicycle codes, along with whatever the ARS says.
And the actual issue isn’t whether or not a motorized bicycle may be ridden on the sidewalk, it’s really about what happens when they are ridden in a crosswalk. The answer for *bicycles* is clearly that they are NOT prohibited, see e.g. Maxwell v Gossett, but it is unclear how the motor might affect that… it seems to me that it would not.
There are a couple of reference in the city code about devices “propelled by human power”, e.g. 36-16 Applicability — it remains unclear where the motor fits in.
The “Motorized Play Vehicle” Wildcard
Some cities have taken the (incorrect, in my opinion) position that motorized bicycles are simply motorized play vehicles — which are banned from just about everywhere; including streets and sidewalks. Most/many cities, including Phoenix, had pre-existing (that is to say: pre-dating the ARS that defined motorized bicycles) such laws; Phoenix 36-1, and 36-64, and the above link for full discussion.
The ACR Arizona Crash Report / ASDM
This is ADOT IncidentId=2560864 (full record dumped below) , The ACR is city of Phoenix file number 11000104937 (listed as FileNumber=201100104937 in ASDM data). The narrative in the ACR doesn’t match with the news reports; there is in reality apparently no crosswalk involvement
The narrative states: “U1 (the moto-bicyclist) SB in RTO lane entered intersection to proceed straight through and collided with the side of U2 (the driver) which was also SB in the RTO lane and executed a right turn at the intersection” (my abbreviations). So it’s not really all that clear to me what when on — both units were in the RTO lane, was the driver overtaking in the RTO lane?
There are two RTO lanes at 25th and Dunlap; as well as a LTO lane, and there are no through lanes. It seems the likely scenario was the Toyota was in R1 (the RTO lane to the left), while the moto-bicyclist was in R2; though the narrative doesn’t say that. The page of the ACR where lane numbers are listed is missing (I think that page is optional). In ASDM data both units are listed as lane=Lane: RIGHT_TURN_1_40 which I’m supposing is wrong, that the bike was actually in R2.
In asdm, both units are southbound; but on the ACR, the Toyota is listed as westbound (presumably the direction it would be going at the completion of its right turn)… I’m not sure if somebody corrected that or what
Generally: Note that motorized bicyclists are not categorized as PersonType PEDALCYCLIST in official traffic stats (they are actually listed as DRIVER), so don’t count as a bicyclist fatality.
I’m not sure if it’s possible to “find” other motorized bicycle incidents in ASDM data; it may also be the case that they are, in less serious cases, simply coded as bicycles and that’s the end of it(?). In any event, for fatalities anyway, a couple of telling fields pop up in the unit table of asdm that might be useful for finding motorized bicycle collisions
VehicleStateCode: UN — a moped would, typically anyway, have a plate; whereas a motorized bicycle doesn’t
Make: UNKNOWN — not sure if this is helpful or not?