Moped and Motorized Bicycles in Arizona

[for an update involving troubles in Tempe, see Is your motorized bicycle a play vehicle?]

Every now and then an unusual story involving bicycles, in this case motorized bicycles, and a point of law comes along. Surely, this is one of those cases. It revolves around a relatively new law enacted last year, that defines a whole new category: motorized bicycles. See HB2796, 2nd Regular legislature (2006).

It is well-established that bicycle riders in general do not need any sort of operating license. For why this is so in Arizona, see e.g. Bicycle License. Bicycles are defined as being human powered, so what happens if you strap a motor on it? The answer: it depends. Here is the hierarchy along with their statutory definition(the section numbers of 28-101 are prone to change, they are accurate as of this writing in Sept 2007), in ascending order of power limits:

Phew! that was more categories than I thought!

Motorized Bicycle (hereafter referred to as MB): No operating license is required, nor is title, registration or insurance. Although MBs may be operated in bicycle lanes, they may not use paths because these are generally not “designated for the exclusive use of bicycles” [upon reflection, I'm not sure i agree that interpretation of 2513(6). It seems to me that that section *allows* something; and to say it prohibits other things may be logically incorrect]. The motor is limited to 48cc’s (which begs the question about an electric motor, was that an oversight? Tuscon’s ordinance DOES include the 1HP electric limit). In other words it is treated just like a bicycle would it not be for the following phrase: “operated at speeds of less than twenty miles per hour”. No Insurance is required but see notation on mopeds, immediately below.

Moped: A motor vehicle operator’s license is required, but it can be any class — unlike more powerful cycles where a class M is specified. Title requirements are waived, required license and registration are inexpensive and fixed by statute. The power requirement is more specific: < 50cc’s AND < 1.5HP AND < 25mph at 1% or less grade. Mopeds may NOT be operated in bicycle lane or path. ADOT says that insurance is required for mopeds (but not for motorized bicycles); I cannot find any statutory basis for that conclusion, and I believe MVD is in error — see the analysis here, which revolves around the fact that both motorized bicycles and mopeds are defined by statute as types of bicycles.

Motor Driven Cycle: IS a motorcycle, but the motor is limited to 5HP. As such, a class M operators license, and title/insurance/registration would be required. There are a bunch of equipment differences, seems to mainly revolve around headlight requirements. They may be restricted from controlled access highways.

Motorcycle: No motor power limit. Class M operators license, and title/insurance/registration required.

Discussion

The defining statute for mopeds gives a fairly tight definition of the speed capability, rated as no more than 25mph. But note that it is not a “moped speed limit”; it’s only an equipment specification, and ill-defined as well (how heavy is the driver/rider? The law doesn’t say)
Also need to check city laws could be more restrictive, e.g. Tuscon has an age limit on MB, and riding them on sidewalks is prohibited.

For example, if a perfectly compliant moped were rolling downhill faster, that would be no problem. Normal speed limits still apply, see §28-701 . As a practical matter, I have no idea who actually certifies these limits. The moped’s manufacturer, perhaps? Also, and obvious factor that would affect the 25mph max rating drastically is rider (or riders, many mopeds can accommodate a passenger) and payload weight. This is not in the definition at all.

By contrast, the MB definition (which is curiously not with all the other definitions in 28-101?) says that “For the purposes of this section (a MB) is operated at speeds of less than twenty miles per hour”. Does that constitute a “MB speed limit”? Bicycles by their nature can easily exceed 20mph with no helper motor at all. What if the motor is switched off — would the 20mph apply then? As usual, normal speed limit laws still apply of course. Also, there is no statutory requirement for a speedometer. A flyer put out by the city of Tuscon helpfully says that “You should also consider using additional equipment such as a speedometer…”. Would a MB that is licensed/insured/etc as a moped be a moped all the time or only when operated under 20mph — note that this is a big deal as a practical matter because mopeds are banned from bicycle facilities (regardless of operating speed) whereas MBs are subject to the same ride-to-the-right restrictions as bicycles. Another hiccup in the MB morphing into a moped is the moped’s definition of not being capable of exceeding 25mph on level ground. It is quite possible, or even likely, that a MB cannot fit this definition — it may fit the description of motor driven cycle which has other equipment and license requirements. All of these add together to make me wonder how reasonable all of this is, and how the heck a judge would see this. The statutes could really use a going-over.

Other oddities: the (presumably gasoline) motor size is limit is practically the same — 50cc for mopeds, and 48cc for MBs. What’s up with that? Shouldn’t it have been like 25cc?. And 28-2516C seems to have omitted an electric motor specification, leaving some to question the status of bicycles with electric helper motors. (Tucson does have an electric motor spec of 1HP max)

Another possible loose end is highway restriction. Bicycles in AZ are allowed to use highways except where prohibited by DOT, see §28-733. In effect this ends up being prohibited in all urban situations, and sometimes allowed in rural areas. I can’t find anything specific about mopeds or MB restrictions. Both are defined as bicycles + motor, so I suppose they inherit the same rights/restrictions to the road as bicycles.

Legislative Background

The enabling legislation was pushed by Tom Prezelski (D-Tucson), it passed the 47th/2nd Regular session, May of 2006. Session Laws, Chapter 292. The bill was known as HB2796 (must first select correct session for link to work). There was a fair bit of controversy surrounding the bill in the “cycling community” — which sort of surprised me (naive, I guess. The animosity, it seemed to me, was needless and counterproductive). There is some good discussion here from a Tucson City Council meeting regarding  their city reg’s.


Ticketed rider pedals fine line in court

Carol Sowers, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 18, 2007 03:52 PM
SCOTTSDALE – A 50-year-old Scottsdale man is battling traffic citations in City Court because he says he was ticketed twice by a police officer who doesn’t know the difference between a motorized bicycle and a moped.

Steve Livingston says the officer, R. Royston, a longtime traffic officer, does not understand a new law that treats motorized bicycles like traditional pedal-powered bicycles.

Jesse Squier, Livingston’s lawyer, argued that a veteran traffic officer like Royston should have known about the new law, and that he “has a vendetta against my client.”

But Scottsdale prosecutor Mike De La Cruz argued that Livingston’s motorized bicycle really is a moped and that the officer “acted in good faith.”

The year-old law says riders who attach motors no larger than 33 ½ cubic centimeters [actually the law says no larger than 48cc's] to their bicycles don’t need a driver’s license, insurance, or registration, and can travel in bicycle lanes, but can’t go more than 20 mph.

Royston testified Monday that he never heard of the new law when he stopped Livingston in November for riding his orange motorized bike in a bicycle lane along Granite Reef Road, near McDowell Road.

Royston insisted the cycle was a Moped, which are not allowed in bicycle lanes, and which require registration and driver’s licenses. The officer cited Livingston for “driving on a suspended license.”

Livingston admitted his license had been suspended for drunken-driving, but told Royston at the time that he didn’t need a driver’s license to ride his motorized bicycle.

Scottsdale Judge Wendy Morton dismissed the suspended license charge Monday [I heard that this is not correct, and that in actuality PROSECUTOR dropped the charge -- however there were two suspended license charges and so had little effect] , but Livingston’s trial on a speeding ticket will continue later this month.

Royston spotted Livingston a second time in March, again riding his motorized bike in a bicycle lane near Eldorado Park at Oak Street and Miller Road.

Royston testified Monday that he was helping with a nearby accident investigation when he heard Livingston’s bicycle approaching him from about 100 yards away.

“It sounded like a gas-powered skate board,” Royston told the court.

The officer said he retrieved his radar gun from his patrol car and clocked Livingston at 28 mph, 8 mph faster than the legal limit for motorized bikes.

Royston pursued Livingston until the cyclist stopped a few blocks later, again on Granite Reef Road.

“As far as I was concerned he was a Moped in a bicycle lane, Royston testified, adding that he “had a hard time catching up with him.”

Livingston testified that his cycle odometer showed him going no faster than 19.5 mph that day.

Prosecutor De La Cruz questioned the accuracy of the bicycle odometer, insisting that the 28.5 mph radar gun reading qualified Livingston’s bicycle as a Moped.

De La Cruz said that as a result, Livingston was not covered by the legislation that took effect in September 2006.

“The officer got the law right,” De La Cruz said.

Royston handcuffed Livingston, put him in the back of his car and told him that he was tired of arguing about the law, according to a transcript of a tape Livingston made during his arrest.

“I’m going to settle this argument, and a judge is too, and we’re going to put you in jail for it,” Royston said, according to the transcript.

The trial is expected to resume Sept. 24.

Bike rider convicted of riding on suspended license

Carol Sowers, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 26, 2007 07:03 AM
A 50-year-old Scottsdale man has lost the first round of a court battle with a police officer who has cited him twice for riding his “motorized bicycle” in a bicycle lane, claiming it is really a moped.

Scottsdale Judge Wendy Morton agreed Tuesday with Scottsdale Police Officer R. Royston, convicting Steve Livingston of riding on a suspended license.

The city court judge ruled that Livingston’s bright-orange cruiser with a helper motor is a moped. Morton said Livingston exceeded the 20 mph maxium speed for such bicycles and that he was therefore riding it illegally in a bicycle lane while on a suspended driver’s license.
Morton threw out Livingston’s argument that his bicycle is covered under a year-old state law that says bicycles with helper motors can use bike lanes, and riders don’t need insurance, registration, or driver’s licenses, so long as they don’t exceed 20 mph.

Royston testified that in March he clocked Livingston’s cruiser at 28.5 mph in a bicycle lane on Granite Reef Road near Oak Street.

“As far as I was concerned, he was a moped in a bicycle lane,” Royston testified.

Livingston denied going that speed, saying his bicycle computer showed a maximum speed of 19.5 mph for the entire day.

Royston arrested him for driving on a suspended driver’s license, stemming from drunk driving charges.

Jesse Squier, Livingston’s attorney, argued that Royston had a vendetta against his client because he had stopped him five months earlier for riding his motorized cruiser in a bicycle lane.

Royston admitted he knew nothing at the time about the new motorized bicycle law and considered them mopeds.

Livingston could face jail time and thousands of dollars in fines when he is sentenced Oct. 17.

Squier said he will appeal Morton’s ruling, in part because the “motorized bicycle law” doesn’t spell out penalties for exceeding the 20 mph speed limit.

30 thoughts on “Moped and Motorized Bicycles in Arizona”

  1. I read this article elsewhere and the picture of the “motorized bicycle” doesn’t match the description of the bike the man was riding during the traffic stop. ???? I can’t believe this would be in the paper..the Arizona Republic must be desperate for stories. It’s shameful. Criminals slandering cops. Obviously Steve Livingston doesn’t know the law if he has broken it so many times by driving drunk. It takes several DUIs to have your license suspended. [actually, that's not true, DUI penalties have become increasingly stiff: the minimum is 30 + 60 days suspension, see 28-1385(F)] This guy is willing to take everyone elses lives in his hands by driving drunk but he thinks he should be in the paper as a victim???? I think if you have a suspended license you shouldn’t be driving anything motorized because you are not responsible enough.

    azbikelaw responds: Thanks for you comments, John. First off — I’m gonna say that the contraption probably SOUNDS like hell, and is a public auditory nuisance — but that’s not excuse to try and mis-apply traffic laws, if they don’t apply.
    The picture in my paper showed a very fancy-looking “retro” cruiser style bicycle, the motor was attached just ahead of the rear wheel very low to the ground, it was b/w photo so I can’t tell the color. But, the short answer is it looks like bicycle with a motor added to it. Did you read any of the legal stuff — which is the whole point of MY article — the legislation which defines a motorized bicycle is vague/loose/not well constructed. This creates a situation where the law needs to be interpreted by a judge… so we’ll just have to wait and see what the judge decides.

  2. A. It is a de-facto rule that law enforcement has control over anything powered by gasoline. Not in law, just generally speaking. Just like the unwritten assumption that law enforcement can never tell a lie. The law is cloudy and vague, thank god for that. Motorized bikes are not to be regulated in the first place. Unless you are of the notion that we should all be regulated like a heard of sheep. Which i agree, some humans are just that stupid. But the rest of us don’t need regulating.
    The cop did not like the idea that he may not have a say so over a motorized bike rider. And, as we all know from the supreme court decision, a cop can arrest you for anything now. Welcome to the united states of arrestia. or the socialist states of america. Face it, there is a law against everything now, and you have no rights.
    The whole stupid 20mph law is to keep people driving cars.
    cars generate revenue for the govt. taxes, tickets, LOTS of traffic tickets, licenses, registration, insurance, gasoline tax revenue, parking fee’s, etc.
    Bottom line, the local court will extract some amount of money from him, no matter what. that is the bottom line.
    And the bike rider needs to switch to an electric bike so as to not attract negative attention to himself.

  3. John T, you are as ignorant as the judge is in this matter. It might be a good idea to “know what you’re talking about” before moving your fingers on the keyboard. The Scottsdale court is a kangaroo court. The cop LIED about speed, there was no speeding ticket nor any evidence of speed taken. The point is that the crooked cop testified under oath he was going to stop the rider the second time because he believed it was a moped riding in a bike lane. The officer still didn’t know the law six months after it went into effect. During the second stop (by the same cop), in which Mr Livingston was arrested, it was recorded on digital tape. The word “speed” was not used once during the ordeal. The prosecution and officer, by their fabrication of the speed (which actually was never over 20 mph and there is no printout etc.), have used that as a smokescreen to hide the fact that Mr. Livingston was falsely arrested two times by the same cop. The cop’s willfull negligence of knowing the law has caused this situation to exist. All I can say is when your in the city of Nazisdale, watch your six whatever your ride or drive.

  4. just to throw a different perspective.i have developed a few bicycles with motors on them .i rode my latest for several months at least 20 miles a day six days a week.it,s capable of nearly 40 miles an hour.i made it that way for survival. the law,forcing a human on a lightweight bicycle to 20 mph is a death sentence.all of this crap is over a poor human wanting to try to keep up with society with limited funds.taking a bus in phoenix sucks as well as waiting in the sun for countless amounts of time in summer.sometimes it’s full past capacity.actually often too full.
    i say for myself; i’m getting tired of being restricted by ridiculous laws.what would it hurt to go the speed limit on a bicycle.putting a person on a bicycle at 20 mph;in front of many tons of rolling steel is flippin stupid.
    i tend to believe that a lawmaker in general ,doesnt ever pedal a bike,or worry about survival.
    i predict that us poor folks are going to have to rise and get crazy on the system throw these idiots out and give the country a tune up.it’s getting so theres nothing to lose.i’m lucky the cop thats on me;is’nt ticketing me.
    heres an idea.”LEGALISE FREEDOM”. or risk the eventuality that us americans(who will fight)might take over and ruin the soft and easy careers enjoyed at our expence.
    i’m going to break the law today and ride my ” MB” to work.SCREW EVERYBODY.

  5. Check out a awesome forum about motorized bicycles. Motorbicycling.com Very helpful and NICE members, from building a MB to buying a MB, to maintenece, to modify. Everything you need to know about MB’s can be found at motorbicycling.com.

  6. So does this mean as long as you don’t exceed 20 mph you can ride a motor assisted bike or is it up to the cop that may see you?

    Yup, in AZ, and as long as you meet the other requirements (e.g. engine size), and otherwise not doing anything illegal

  7. nothing at 20 mph is threatening to anyone or any thing for that matter except for the rider who for whatever reason is trying to survive in the modern world the way he or she has to. To have a police officer and the Scottsdale judicial community argue about this is ridiculous and absurd, most cops are streetside judicial and wont tolerate being challenged legally if they think they are correct or are rookies pressured by their sergeants, nonetheless challenged authority always ends the same way. Its so frivolous the local legal community could give a rats ass, wont touch it.
    Mr T you argued cause your angry not because you broke any law.

  8. I own an electric bike with a factory installed governor that keeps it at a max of 20 mph. I have been pulled over and hassled 3 times (twice by Tempe police and once by Mesa). The Mesa cop allowed me to show him the bike and discuss the law. The Tempe cops nearly cuffed me after I tried to discuss it with them. There needs to be a clearer law and more informed police with the number of people riding alternative transportation.

  9. I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a motorized quadracycle. AZ MB law specifically refers to bicycles and tricycles, but no mention is made of 4-wheeled bikes. The other classifications do not mention 4-wheeled vehicles either. So, is a motorized quadracycle considered a MB, a Moped or what?

    I can’t believe I’m going to have to consult with a lawyer over this. Sigh.

  10. Also, the definition of a bicycle makes no mention of >3-wheeled bikes. The following are excerpts from 28-101.

    “6. “Bicycle” means a device, including a racing wheelchair, that is propelled by human power and on which a person may ride and that has either:

    (a) Two tandem wheels, either of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter.

    (b) Three wheels in contact with the ground, any of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter.”

    “56. “Vehicle” means a device in, on or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a public highway, excluding devices moved by human power…”

    So, even with no motor of any kind, a quadracycle is in a huge gray hole. It’s not a bicycle, it’s not a moped, it’s not a vehicle. So, what the heck is it?

  11. I dont understand why this is even being discussed or challanged when United States Public Law 107-319 was passed by the United States Vol. 148 (2002):Nov. 18, considered and passed Senate. Sec. 38 Sub section (D) Reads as follows: (d) This section shall supersede any State law or requirement with
    respect to low-speed electric bicycles to the extent that such State law or requirement is more stringent than the Federal law or requirements referred to in subsection (a).

    For more info: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=107_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ319.107

  12. Here is another link showing this bill was leagaly voted in by the United States Congress in March 6, 2001, 6:39 p.m. This state of Arizona and the rest of the states have no buisness tampering with this Federal Law.

    http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/107/house/1/votes/27/

    I urge anyone who is falling under false prosecution by local police or court agencys to contact the FBI and report it. They are in direct violation of a Federal Law !!!

    The FBI classifies such actions as a white callor crime: http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/pubcorrupt/pubcorrupt.htm

    Contact form: https://tips.fbi.gov/

  13. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION – Requirements for Low-Speed Electric Bicycles:
    I especialy found this document of value because it contains all the numberd subsections H.R.727 fails to list.
    http://www.cpsc.gov/businfo/frnotices/fr03/low.html

    Again I urge anyone who is falling under false prosecution by local police or court agencys pertaining to H.R.727 to contact the FBI and report it. They are in direct violation of a Federal Law !!!

    ed comment: by the way, the federal definition is very sensible (compared to AZ’s confusion): ” ‘low-speed electric bicycle’ means a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph”

  14. There is some sort of statistical hole in ADOT collision data — motorized bicycles (sometimes?) get categorized as moped in crash reports.
    ALL THREE of the known 2010 Motorized-bike fatalities were categorized as moped / which also means that those 3 fatals do NOT count in the official stat of 19 fatal bicyclists for the year. see the 2010 fatal grid for some more info.

    There were a total of 22 moped collisions in AZ in 2010. 6 (including the 3 motorized-bicyclists) were fatal and 16 were non-fatal collisions. How many of these 19 (22 minus 3) were actually mopeds and how many were actually moto-bikes isn’t clear.

    SELECT IncidentID,ExtendedNcic,TotalFatalities FROM incident i WHERE (SELECT 1 FROM unit u WHERE u.IncidentID=i.IncidentID AND u.BodyStyle=125 ) GROUP BY 1 ORDER BY 2 ASC;

    below is a dump of all Moped collisions for the year 2010:

    ID	Ncic	TotalFatalities
    2401688	700	1
    2396687	700	1
    2432173	705	0
    2384822	707	0
    2378599	717	0
    2475955	723	0
    2464637	723	0
    2463602	723	0
    2477111	723	0
    2389764	723	1
    2347079	723	0
    2380438	725	0
    2432928	725	0
    2377362	729	1 Definitely a moto-bike
    2444918	801	0
    2379034	1003	1 Definitely a moto-bike
    2349725	1003	1 Definitely a moto-bike
    2452234	1100	0
    2452247	1100	0
    2386427	1101	0
    2387769	1303	0
    2449741	1312	0
    

    So apparently this is consistently the way that (fatalities anyway) for motorized bicyclist crashes are coded, here is an email fragment from May 2012:

    Here’s reply from one of ADOT’s traffic records/safety engineers: “MMUCC, which is the Federal guideline, lumps motor scooters, mini-bikes and mopeds into the motorcycle category. It does have a Data Category of Personal Conveyance which is defined as ‘A personal conveyance is a device, other than a transport device, used by a pedestrian for personal mobility assistance or recreation. These devices can be motorized or human powered, but not propelled by pedaling.’ Unfortunately, this data category is not a separate category in the AZ Crash Report. It is listed under the definition of a Pedestrian. I recommend you discuss with (the traffic records manager) how you would like to see the “motorized bicycles” categorized since it is not spelled out in the AZ Traffic Crash Report Instruction Manual how local agencies should handle them. If he does not issue guidance, you will never get a good handle on the real numbers.”

    Here is a query (e.g. 2012) to uncover likely motorized bicyclist crashes; they have odd combinations of state (usually UN for unknown, since no plate to moto-bikes), and Make is usually something like UNKNOWN or OTHER (or an obvious mis-coding like e.g. OPEL?)…

    SELECT count(1) count, eUnitType Type, 
    BodyStyleDesc, MakeDesc, 
    VehicleStateCode State, eInjuryStatus FROM
    2012_person p JOIN 2012_unit u ON p.UnitID=u.UnitID WHERE BodyStyle=125  
    GROUP BY 2,3,4,5,6 ;
    
    +-------+--------+---------------------+--------------+-------+---------------------------+
    | count | Type   | BodyStyleDesc       | MakeDesc     | State | eInjuryStatus             |
    +-------+--------+---------------------+--------------+-------+---------------------------+
    |     1 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | HOND_HONDA   | AZ    | POSSIBLE_INJURY           |
    |     1 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | HOND_HONDA   | AZ    | NON_INCAPACITATING_INJURY |
    |     1 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | NOT_REPORTED | AZ    | NON_INCAPACITATING_INJURY |
    |     1 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | NOT_REPORTED | UN    | POSSIBLE_INJURY           |
    |     1 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | OPEL_OPEL    | UN    | NON_INCAPACITATING_INJURY |
    |     3 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | OTHER        | AZ    | NON_INCAPACITATING_INJURY |
    |     1 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | OTHER        | AZ    | INCAPACITATING_INJURY     |
    |     1 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | OTHER        | UN    | NON_INCAPACITATING_INJURY |
    |     1 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | UNKNOWN      | AZ    | NO_INJURY                 |
    |     1 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | UNKNOWN      | AZ    | POSSIBLE_INJURY           |
    |     1 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | UNKNOWN      | UN    | POSSIBLE_INJURY           |
    |     2 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | UNKNOWN      | UN    | FATAL                     |
    |     1 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | YAMA_YAMAHA  | MN    | NON_INCAPACITATING_INJURY |
    |     1 | DRIVER | MOTORCYCLE_MP_MOPED | YAMA_YAMAHA  | UN    | INCAPACITATING_INJURY     |
    +-------+--------+---------------------+--------------+-------+-----------------
  15. Other State’s laws avoid Arizona’s muddled mess;
    e.g. California CVC 406b:
    “(2) Is incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on ground level. (3) Is incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power is used to propel the motorized bicycle faster than 20 miles per hour.”

    Florida just bakes it into their definition of bicycle: “Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground…”

    Ohio Sec. 4501.01.
    (L) “Motorized bicycle” means any vehicle that either has two tandem wheels or one wheel in the front and two wheels in the rear, that is capable of being pedaled, and that is equipped with a helper motor of not more than fifty cubic centimeters piston displacement that produces no more than one brake horsepower and is capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of no greater than twenty miles per hour on a level surface.

    note that all of them avoid the Arizona muddle by specifically referring to equipment capabilities rather than operational limitation.

  16. I am sure not all police are like this one in
    Scottsdale. What boggles my mind is with all
    the crime going on in the valley anymore these
    cops should have something better to do then go afte the little guy that is trying to survive economically. And besides, anyone that
    has the guts to ride an MB and save all that
    money because his MB can get 200 miles to the
    gallon, hurray for him.

  17. I lost my AZ license due to one of those stupid photo tickets, which are illegal in the state but used by cities to generate cash, even though they don’t cut down on accidents. So I’m interested in a motorbike of some type. At least until I can afford the fines and fees for reinstatement.

    But AZ law is indeed muddled, on Everything. I moved here from Mass and like most, figured Mass had more laws, and AZ was the wild west. WRONG. AZ has more laws, and more petty laws, and more severe punishment for minor infractions, such as what you can and can’t do with your property – especially in the cities. They’re also harsher on minor offenses and love to fill up Sherrif Arpaio’s Tent City Prison with nonviolent crimes, like smoking a tiny bit of weed.

    I live in a park that Hates anything green. There’s nothing but ugly rocks and dust here but if a tiny bit of greenery pokes out they go nuts.

    This is not a good state to live in if you like your freedom, despite all the nutters here who bray about it.

  18. Motor vehicles, including mopeds are subject to Arizona’s mandatory financial responsibility (normally referred to as mandatory insurance) laws, See title 28 Chapter 9 e.g.:

    28-4135. Motor vehicle financial responsibility requirement; civil penalties; evidence at hearing
    A. A motor vehicle that is operated on a highway in this state shall be covered by one of the following…

    Motorized bicycles are specifically excluded from these requirements.

  19. Here is a message if found at a old a spookytoothcycles.com forum I can’t vouch for its authenticity, HOWEVER it does make me wonder about insurance (“fincnacial responsibility”) requirements for mopeds. This says mopeds do NOT require insurance; that is backwards from what i had thought, however it does make sense in light of moped’s def’n

    Email received from Officer Sills who is regarded by other officers as the expert pertaining to Motorized Bicycle Phoenix City Code/State Law:

    I hope the attached document assist you. I have fought this battle for several years with the conflict in legislation and have numerous times tried to educate officers about such matters. [b]Yes you can operate your e-bike in a bike lane provided it meets the definition (bicycle with helper motor – meaning it must have pedals). Carry this document with you and show it to officers and have them contact me. If you have further questions, please contact me. Oh, as for the play vehicles, I
    wrote that ordinance and it means any vehicle or toy that is not defined by state law or city ordinance. Manufacturers try and change “toys” everyday and it’s hard to keep up with them an e-bike is not a play vehicle.

    Officer Terry Sills
    Traffic Complaint Coordinator
    602-534- SPEED (7733)
    terry.sills@phoenix.gov

    Text of document received from Officer Sills:

    ELECTRIC SCOOTERS BICYCLES MOPEDS MINI-MOTORCYCLES

    ARS 28.101 defines:

    Bicycle – “a device that is propelled by human power that has 2 tandem wheels or 3 wheels in contact with the ground” (16 inches or more in diameter).

    Moped – “a bicycle that is equipped with a helper motor of 50cc or less with a maximum speed of 25 MPH”.

    Motorcycle – “a motor vehicle that has a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than 3 wheels in contact with the ground, excludes a tractor and a moped.”

    Motor Driven Cycle – “a motorcycle, including every motor scooter that produces not more than 5 horsepower.”

    Motorized Skateboard – “a self propelled device that has a motor, a deck on which a person may ride and at least 2 tandem wheels in contact with the ground.” BANNED IN PHOENIX

    Neighborhood electric vehicle – “a self propelled electrically powered motor vehicle which is emission free, 4 wheels, complies with Fed regulations for low speed vehicles.”

    Golf Cart – “a motor vehicle with not less than 3 wheels, unladen weight of less than 1000 LBS, operate at 25 MPH or less and designed to carry 4 persons or less.”

    Motorized electric or gas powered bicycle/tricycle – “a bicycle or tricycle that is equipped with a helper motor with a max 48cc engine, may also be self propelled, and operates at speeds of less than 20 MPH.”

    Electric Personal Assistive mobility device – “self balancing 2 nontandem wheeled device with an electric propulsion system, 15 MPH or less and one person.” SEGWAY – all rights of pedestrian – EXCEPT: MUST BE 16 OR OLDER TO OPERATE

    BICYCLE MOPED E-BIKE MOTORCYCLE GOLF / ELECTRIC VEH

    DR LIC no yes no yes yes
    REGISTR no yes no yes yes
    FIN RESP no no no yes yes
    BIKE LANE yes no yes no no
    SPEED none 25/less less than 20 none 25 or less

  20. In rural AZ life is slow and spread out, we use bicylces. Is it required to have an AZ driver’s license to use a motorized 50cc or less bicylce, I am confused. some Police Officers say yes, some say no. It would be nice to have a definetive answer. I could print and show the ones that harass many older people in our town.

    hi dolores,
    remember; i am NOT a lawyer!! —
    here is a very concise 1 page flyer put out by the Tucson Police dept
    http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/files/bicycle/moto_bikes.pdf
    maybe that would be a handy thing to print out and carry with you in case of trouble with police? …. it definitively says:

    “No vehicle title, registration, insurance, emissions or driver license required as long as the motorized bicycle operates in compliance with the above definition (operated at less than 20 mph).”

    so as long as you meet the cc requirements and keep it below 20mph you are fine with no drivers license.
    Note that there are some additional requirements on that flyer that apply only to the city of Tucson; e.g. age limitation, and the helmet stuff are city of Tucson ordinances, and not state laws.

  21. My son had the similar problem with being stopped twice and the second time a saw him on the side of the road and stopped havinfpg my grandson and daughter in my car with me I did see that they were going to impound the bicycle on a tow truck so I proceeded to get on the bycycle and said I can pedal it away and the cop said to get off the bike and I asked why can’t I pedal it away I am licensed and he said get off or I’m arresting you and as I told him I didn’t understand he proceeded to take my hand behind my back forcing me off the bike then the back up officer said he would take my Id and as hey were putting the bike on the tow truck he then gave me back my Id and let us all go well little did I know I had a warrant for my arrest and I turned myself in. I found this out due to needing to rent a car for myself. And now the court said I was disobeying a police officer but the officer lied on the report and said that he was going to arrest me but he didn’t want to run after me due to me blocking traffic or such and that was all false he let me go and never was intending to arrest me or else they would have kept my I’d and cuffed me but they let me go and the police never showed in court only his back up officer, as a witnessed showed. And I am appealing there decision but on mine own I need help!!!!!! No justice.To the little people, but right is right and wrong is just plain wrong!!! :-(…

    The police officer in fact was stealing the bike and using his power into me believing it was unjust to protect my sons property from being wrongly taken away from him, from that police officer. I know some of my rights and he was wrong for taking the bicycle. Please help I need justice! Quikly.

    I’m not a terrorist just a person who knows right is right and wrong is wrong and they are looking at me as such. And I’m reaching out for help from somewhere. I’m just a mom. All alone. In what to do????

  22. moto-bikes have apparently been illegal in New York State since 2004. who knew?
    New York State DMV refers to these devices as “motor assisted bicycle”; without specifying anything about the source of the power, see e.g. NYS DMV faq.
    http://cleantechnica.com/2013/05/23/electric-bikes-illegal-in-new-york-wth/
    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1084757_nyc-bans-electric-bikes-again-launches-bike-sharing-system

    That NYS comment doesn’t sound quite right, though — e.g. here is what wiki said with respect to federally defined “e-bikes”:

    Electric bicycles are unregulated in New York State at the state level, so the Federal definition of ebikes applies. While there are NY DMV laws banning “motor-assisted bicycles” per nys dmv technical services 518 474-5282,[69][70] they do not apply because by the federal definition of an ebike it is not considered a “motor vehicle”. These DMV laws predate the federal definition and were probably intended to regulate gasoline-powered bicycles. There is a proposed bill to explicitly define ebikes at the state level, Bill S00390A (“Defines the term electric assisted bicycle”)[71] and its corresponding Bill A01618. The NYS definition of ebikes in this bill is almost exactly the same as the Federal definition that currently applies.

  23. 5/15/2014
    John Halikowski
    Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation
    206 S. 17th Ave
    Phoenix, 85007
    Dear Director Halikowki,
    It appears that MVD materials stating that mopeds require insurance (“Financial Responsibility”) are incorrect per Arizona Revised Statute.
    I attempted several times through Adot/Mvd’s “contact us” email and phone but the replies lacked any understanding of statute, and entirely unwilling to escalate the matter (in other words, there’s something wrong with problem resolution in your customer service procedures).
    Insurance is required for “motor vehicles” by 28-4135: “A motor vehicle that is operated on a highway in this state…”.
    ” ‘Motor vehicle’ means a self-propelled vehicle…”. 28-4001(3)
    ” ‘Moped’ means a bicycle that is equipped…” 28-101(31)
    ” ‘Bicycle‘ means a device … that is propelled by human power…” 28-101(6)
    ” ‘Vehicle’ means a device … excluding devices moved by human power…” 28-101(58)
    Bicycles are not vehicles, neither are mopeds, by definition.
    Please advise,

    Regards,

    http://www.azleg.gov/ars/28/00101.htm
    http://www.azleg.gov/ars/28/02513.htm
    http://www.azleg.gov/ars/28/04001.htm
    http://www.azleg.gov/ars/28/04135.htm

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