Scoot Over

Author: Fred Grenvile

I recently bought a Scooter from Sunny Motorsports in Chino. Simple story intro. auspicious could go any direction, but this is real life not a story so it seems to go every direction.

I wanted a scooter because under California Vehicle Code a scooter is little different from a pedestrian. Now you can’t ride one on the side walks and you have to keep right. There are some very complicated and frankly ludicrous rules for turning at busy intersections, but a motorized scooter is defined as a two-wheeled vehicle with handlebars and a floor board, which may or may not have a driver’s seat (so long as you are able to stand on the floor board), and may or may not be human powered in addition to the motor. I thought this is what I was buying from Sunny.

There’s a whole new section to the vehicle code and the preamble says it’s purpose is to reduce traffic and pollution by encouraging scooters. Any Cali DL is sufficient and no insurance required. However when it arrived, the VIN plate said motorcycle. That had me puzzled.

The Vehicle code was specifically amended in 2008 to remove any engine size stipulation for scooters. So the fact my scooter was 150cc shouldn’t have mattered. There was the floor board and the handle bars. It had two wheels. I know cause I counted em twice. What was up?

I began reading the DMV website for more info. AHA! The vehicle code says “may be human powered” however the DMV has taken it on itself to alter that to “must” be. Interesting.

I read further, Scooters may be licensed (bycicles may as well), but aren’t required to be. I reread the scooter definition. Yep both the state legal site and the DMV agreed, scooters were not Motorcycles, Motorized Cycles or Motorized Bicycles. Now I got the first and the last, Motorcycles and Mopeds. No brainer. One has peddles and I was pretty sure that was the latter. SO what was this Motorized Cycle?

Fortunately the Vehicle Code defines these. Simply put it’s a motorcycle, but with less than 150cc engine. Less than. hrmmm. That reminded me of a first who had one of those little Honda MV5 bikes back in the 80′s. So that was pretty clear. WE all know a motorcycle when we see one. It has handle bars and pegs for your feet (no floorboard) and a bike frame with a gas tank and motor that snuggle between your knees and crush you in an accident. My scooter had a gap ther to step through and a floorbaord to rest my tootsies on. Nice and safe, with fram and farings to deflect fast moving steel in an accident. Mine was a scooter.

But then I read closer. The driver’s seat on a scooter can’t obstruct the rider from “standing up while operating it.” Could I stand while operating my scooter? After several tries I decided that the clear answer was no. But not because of the seat. The seat is quite comfortable and place far enough back to give me plenty of room for my size 12s. and theoretically I could stand on the floorboard while in operation without any interference from the seat whatever. However, the handlebars are far to short to allow such tricks.

If I were 20years younger and still had knees, I might manage just fine. But as it is I cannot stand with my knees bent at 30deg to save my life. Just can’t happen. SO. It remains true I can’t stand while in operation, but the seat isn’t the culprit and I find myself at an impasse. The inability to stand causes the DMV to declare it a scooter, while I maintain that it is a scooter, because handlebar height is not an issue in the actual code.

So I have a motorcycle (I don’t stipulate this only observe the registration in my hand) and all I can say is at least it’s 150CC so I can actually take it outside the city. At 150cc it is a motorcycle. I wonder if the “angels” that hang out at Deer Lodge will ever start replacing their sportsers and softtails for Vespas?

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