Someone asked me recently whether a moped – a motorized bicycle – is forbidden from using Class IV bikeways,
also known as protected bike lanes. After doing some research, I believe so. Here’s my interpretation of the law.
Motorized Bicycle – Moped – Laws
In 2001, the United States Congress passed Public Law 107-319. It states that electric bicycles and tricycles that meet the definition of low-speed electric bicycles are regulated by the federal Consumer Product Safety Act.
On the other hand, mopeds and motorcycles are regulated by the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Meanwhile, according to the DMV, unlike riding an e-bike, to ride a moped you must have a motorcycle license or an M2 endorsement. You also need specialty plates and a California ID card.
Moped riders are required to wear eye protection at all times. Like e-bike riders, if the rider is under the age of 18 they must wear a helmet, but that’s where the commonality between e-bikes and mopeds end.
Here’s another difference between laws applying to e-bikes versus mopeds. In 1985, California passed Vehicle Code 21200.5. This law made bicycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs a CUI rather than a DUI. A CUI is a misdemeanor and, if you are convicted, it will show up on your driving record as a conviction. It also carries a $250 fine but no jail time. If the individual is under the age of 21, a CUI conviction can result in the suspension of the person’s driver’s license.
A moped rider who is under the influence is subject to the same drunk driving laws (DUIs), that a motor vehicle driver is. This was decided in 1977 by the California Court of Appeal in People v. Jordan, 75 Cal. App. 3d Supp.1. The court specifically stated that because it [the moped] had a motor, it did not fall under the CUI law.
Mopeds are Not E-bikes
In almost all ways an e-bike is under the same rules and regulations as those that govern bicycles. Yet mopeds seem to be categorized with motorcycles.
Assuming that mopeds are regulated by the same laws as motorcycles, then they are required to follow the same laws as a motorcycle and other motor vehicles. Since neither motorcycles nor motor vehicles are typically permitted to ride in bike lanes, I don’t believe it would be legal for a moped to ride in a Class IV Separated Bikeway either. After all, bikeways are bike lanes that are protected.