Hello Howard Delegation,
I am a 48 yr old Howard Co resident, and I ask your help to adjust the new MD scooter law.
Who am I ? Why am I asking this?
I'm an electrical engineer, married, have 5 children. For 5 years, I was a regular bicycle commuter to work, trying to do the work-life balance with time, exercise, family, as you well know. In addition, I discovered the green, alternate transportation option of an electric assist bicycle, partly as a hobby at first, then for it's green and lifestyle benefits. So I invested in a couple different "E-bikes" as they are called. My ability to commute to Sykesville (22 miles) increased. I was able to ride further, faster, and more often, and still stay in shape. Yes, these machines are a hybrid and a person wants to pedal along. So this new law has effected this option and impacted my lifestyle.
What is Right with the current Law?
The current law is written to address the abuse and safety risk of small, unregistered, gasoline scooters of 50cc stroke. These scooters have proliferated, do not require registration, and are not environmentally friendly. Current moped and scooter law does require a regular driver's or moped license.
The new law requires liability insurance, title registration, and safety helmet, eye protection, and ride on 50mph roads or less. The scooters are typically rated at 2-4 horsepower, which propels a person 30-35mph. I agree that vehicled travelling in the 30-35mph range should have such requirements, whether gas or electric. The law specifies scooters of 2.5hp or less and mopeds of 1.5 hp or less, and requires full compliance for both.
Some manufacturers try to skirt motorcycle law by adding cheap, short, pedals to gas scooters in order to be a moped, when in fact no one uses them to actually pedal. The law addresses this by the power limits.
What is Wrong with the current Law?
A federal law was passed by congress recognizing an electric hybrid bicycle, with a power rating of 750W (1 hp) or less and a speed limit of 20mph , as a BICYCLE. There are many upstart companies offering safe, green, alternate electric bikes, that meet the national law. Now, MD citizens must get a title and get insurance for such vehicles, when in reality, they are NO FASTER than a fit athlete on a road bike. The law is over-reaching in its intent. The new Maryland law lumps together both gas scooters and all electric mopeds, when the benefits and safety risks are different.
The new law requires me to "Create" a VIN# for a bicycle because it is "motorized", irrespective of practical application. In addition, insurance companies are going to assess electric bikes the same as gas scooters, charging higher costs and some even requiring a motorcycle license. So my green alt commuting lifestyle has gone from being a "fast" (20mph) bicycle, to a registered, insured, additional licensed vehicle.
The new law does not put a practical lower limit on its definition of "Moped", being 1.5hp or less. Previous MD law defined a moped to go up to 30mph. That is about the right speed for a 1.5hp vehicle. Defining a class of electric mopeds to be between 1hp-1.5hp is needed to separate the differences from a gas scooter that travels 30mph+.
The law discouraged safe, green, alt transportation. It will dicourage a new market of business. It overburdens its citizens financially, and increases government costs for registering a vehicle that is nationally classed as a bicycle, and confirmed by many states.
What am I asking to change?
I am asking for an amendment to the law that keeps the current requirements for vehicles defined to be: Scooters or Mopeds that have a power rating between 1.5hp (1125W) to 2.5hp (1875W), whether gas or electric. Vehicles in this power range are not fast enough to be motorcycles, but too fast to not be regulated.
I am asking that electric bicycles/mopeds that meet the Federal law specification of 20mph limit and 750W or less be exempt from the law and be classified in Maryland as a bicycle, with all the same requirements to follow traffic laws as other bicyclists.
A am asking that all gas scooters or gas mopeds of 50cc or less, up to 2.5hp, remain under the new law.
I am asking that electric bicycles/mopeds rated from 1hp (750W) to 1.5hp (1125W) be classified as an "electric moped". These vehicles will propel riders from 20mph (no pedalling) to 30mph (with/wo pedalling) and meet the true definition of a moped. For this classification, I would ask the state to retain the previous moped requirements: must be 16 or older, have a moped or drivers license, ride on 50mph roads or less. In addition, I would require a front and rear light source of bicycles visibility (to be seen), not motorcycle requirements or turn signals. Helmet and eye protection remain.
I would further ask that electric mopeds and electric bicycles (up to 1.5hp) not be forbidden from MD bike paths and trails where "No Motor Vehicles" are posted. All Electric vehicles would be required to have have a front light and audible warning device, and follow path rules when on paths.
Why should we change this law as such?
The law was concerned about gas scooters that go too fast. Most electric bikes travel much slower (under 20mph), and do not pose the same liability threat. California law recognize the low power electric bikes as bicycles and has no registration requirements.
The federal limit of 20mph is a good practicle limit for a bicycle speed and will apply to most electric bike models with power ranging from 250-500W. Electric Mopeds (1-1.5hp) are in the middle ground between a bicycle and scooter. Cyclist who commute will quickly become frustrated with the 20mph governed speed, and want to find/make a model to mainting speeds in the 20's, where they can rider faster and still feel safe. Because most people ride them like bicycles and they remain slower than the 50cc scooters, it would promote more alternate green commuting with electric mopeds if the additional regulation was not applied to the "electric" version of the moped defintion. I understand the concern for liability, safety, and responsibility, but I would ask for an extension of current law for this class at this time.
Electric bikes are silent and green and deserve to be allowed on bike paths as long as they follow trhe same rules as other cyclists and have audible and light warning devices.
Thank you for your time and consideration. Pease respond with your thoughts.
New MD LAW
Mopeds And Motor Scooters
1. When are mopeds and motor scooters required to be titled and display an identifying decal? Will I need to have insurance for my moped or motor scooter? What protective gear is required when operating a moped or motor scooter?
Effective October 1, 2012 mopeds and motor scooters are required to be titled and display a title decal. The operator/owner of the vehicle must carry proof of insurance while operating the vehicle. The operator and passenger must wear protective headgear that meets the standards under 49CFR§571.218 and the operator must wear an eye protective device if the vehicle is not equipped with a windscreen.
2. Do I need a driver’s license to operate a moped or motor scooter?
The operator of a moped or motor scooter must have a valid moped operator’s permit or a valid driver’s license of any class.
3. I purchased my moped/motor scooter before they were required to be titled. I don’t have a title or certificate of origin. What can I do to comply with the requirement to title and obtain a decal for the vehicle?
You may sign onto the MVA website and complete the Affidavit of Ownership Moped, Motor Scooter & Off Road Vehicle form. If you owned the vehicle prior to October 1, 2012 and title prior to October 1, 2013 there will be no title fee or excise taxes collected. The title and title decal will be mailed to you. The web process cannot be used if the vehicle is subject to a lien, there is a transfer of ownership, the vehicle owner does not have a MD driver’s license or the vehicle does not have a vehicle identification number (VIN). The transaction may also be processed by a dealer or tag and title service that is a participant of the Electronic Registration and Title program, for unusual circumstances, the transaction may be processed at any full service MVA.
4. My moped/motor scooter does not have a vehicle identification number. How can I comply with the requirement to title the vehicle?
You will need to submit your work to a full service MVA office and apply for an assigned VIN by completing an Application for Assigned Vehicle Identification Number (form VR-198).
5. Will there be a grace period for the display of the decal, or will I have to have the decal on the vehicle to operate it on Maryland roads on and after October 1, 2012?
Yes, MVA has requested that a 30 day grace period be given to allow moped and motor scooter owners enough time to title their vehicles and obtain the decal.
6. Where can I title my moped/motor scooter and obtain the identifying decal?
If you owned your vehicle prior to October 1, 2012 you can sign on to MVA’s website at http://www.mva.maryland.gov
and process your transaction. You may also take your work to a dealer or tag and title service that is a participant of the Electronic Registration and Title program for processing. For transactions with unusual circumstances you can submit your paperwork to a full service MVA office to be processed.
7. What taxes and fees are required to title and receive the decal.
If you owned your moped or motor scooter prior to October 1, 2012 and you title it prior to October 1, 2013, you will not be charged a title or excise tax fee. If you purchase your moped or motor scooter after October 1, 2012 you will be charged a $20.00 title fee and the excise tax will be based on the purchase price of your vehicle. The minimum excise tax is based on $320.00 ($19.20 excise tax). If you have paid Maryland sales tax and have proof of the payment, you will be exempt from the excise tax. Otherwise, 6% excise tax applies. The fee for the decal is $5.00 and the decal is to be displayed on the rear of the vehicle in a visible position. The decal is not transferable to another owner.
8. I am planning to purchase a moped/motor scooter after October 1, 2012. What do I do?
You will need to complete an Application for Certificate of Title (form VR-005) or the application on the reverse of the Maryland title, and an Application for Title Decal for Mopeds, Motor Scooters, ATV’s, Off Road Motorcycles and Snowmobiles (form VR-337). Proof of ownership must also be submitted which could be a Certificate of Origin, Maryland or out of state title, a bill of sale and/or registration form.
The work can be processed at a dealer or tag and title service that is a participant in the Electronic Registration and Titling program. For unusual transactions the work may be processed at any full service MVA.
9. I have already titled my moped/motor scooter. How do I get my decal?
You may apply for a decal only via the MVA web site or through a participating Dealer or Tag and Title service.
10. My decal is lost, stolen or mutilated. How do I obtain a new one?
Use the Application for Title Decal for Mopeds, Motor Scooters, ATV’s, Off Road Motorcycles and Snowmobiles (form VR-337) to apply for a replacement of a lost or mutilated decal. The form will need to be mailed to the MVA for processing, and there is a $5.00 fee for the replacement decal.
"Moped" means a bicycle that:
Is designed to be operated by human power with the assistance of a motor.
Is equipped with pedals that mechanically drive the rear wheel or wheels;
Has two or three wheels, of which one is more than 14 inches in diameter; and
Has a motor rating of 1.5 brake horsepower or less and, if the motor is an internal combustion engine, a capacity of 50 cubic centimeters piston displacement or less.
"Motor Scooter" means a non-pedal vehicle that:
Has a seat for the operator.
Has 2 wheels, of which one is 10 inches or more in diameter;
Has a step through chassis;
Has a motor, (i) With a rating of 2.7 brake horsepower or less; or (ii) If the motor is an internal combustion engine, with a capacity of 50 cubic centimeters piston displacement or less; and
Is equipped with an automatic transmission. "Motor Scooter" does not include a vehicle that has been manufactured for off road use, including a motorcycle and all terrain vehicles.
Note: For special or unusual circumstances, the work can be processed at any full service MVA office.
Motor scooters that are built for road use and have greater horsepower and cc's may be titled and registered as a motorcycle. Note: A person may not operate a motorcycle that has a rating of 1.5 brake horsepower or less or a capacity of less than 70 cubic centimeters piston displacement, on a roadway where the posted maximum speed is more than 50 miles per hour, or on an expressway or other controlled access highway.
Situations may very when purchasing a Motor Scooter or Moped. If you do not meet the above criteria or require assistance, please contact the MVA by e-mail at