Moped and scooter owners chafe at Maryland rule changes

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Local,Maryland,Transportation,Liz Essley

Maryland's rules for mopeds and scooters are changing Oct. 1, and officials are warning those reluctant to follow the rules to get ready for enforcement.

The Maryland State Police on Wednesday issued a statement outlining the new law, which requires all scooters and mopeds to be titled and insured, with all drivers and passengers wearing helmets and eye protection.

Maryland scooter sellers say many of their customers, who were drawn to scooters because of the lack of rules, aren't happy about the changes.

"Nobody likes it," said Avi Kondaro, general manager of Rockville Motorsports, which sells the vehicles. "It's going to hurt the business for sure."

Kondaro said he fears for people who bought mopeds a decade ago who no longer have paperwork showing they own them. Titling a vehicle in Maryland requires proof of ownership.

And Kondaro said he expects most people, including police, to be misinformed about the new rules.

"The cops are really confused about the law right now," he said. "They were pulling people over for no reason to begin with, assuming they need to have a motorcycle license."

Wellesley Scott, president of Modern Classics scooter shop in D.C., agreed.

"We have a lot of cops coming into our shop, and we have conversations with them about the D.C. law, and I would say about 90 percent of them have been confused about what the laws are," he said.

But it's not just police who don't know the rules --Scott said about 50 percent of the scooter and moped users who come into his shop don't know about local regulations on the vehicles or deliberately choose not to follow them. It doesn't help that D.C., Maryland and Virginia rules all differ. Virginia does not require registration as long as scooters stay below 35 mph; D.C. treats scooters the same as motorcycles.

"Some people will claim, even though we walk them through and tell them what the laws are, they will say, 'Well, I'm just going to risk it.' They won't register and they won't insure, and they won't do those things," Scott said.

Maryland's new requirements will mean a $25 fee for scooter and moped drivers. Some don't mind the cost in exchange for the benefit --Maryland police will now have a way to track stolen scooters.

"We've heard some negative opinions of it, but I think it's in the best interest of the person who bought the scooter," said John Churchman, co-owner of College Scooters in Maryland. "The cost is so minimal."

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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Liz Essley

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner