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Virginia moves to regulate mo-peds

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Photo - Side view of a woman riding a scooter on a street in Milan, Italy.
Side view of a woman riding a scooter on a street in Milan, Italy.
Local,Virginia,Transportation,Liz Essley

Virginia officials want to impose stricter rules on mo-peds, requiring riders to register their scooters and carry government-issued photo ID, following similar crackdowns in D.C. and Maryland.

Mo-peds -- defined as motorbikes that travel no faster than 35 mph --should be registered, have a vehicle title and display license plates, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles officials told lawmakers earlier this month. Their drivers should be required to wear helmets and eye protection, the department said.

Virginia is one of only a handful of states without strict restrictions on mo-peds.

"It used to be a motorcycle was a motorcycle, and that just isn't the case any more," said state House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe May, R-Leesburg, who will push for the new mo-ped rules in the upcoming General Assembly session. "It's honestly one of the pieces of legislation that needed to be done."

State officials said they would not recommend that mo-ped owners be required to get a driver's license or to buy insurance for their vehicles. Many people who ride mo-peds don't have licenses, and insurance companies are not likely to insure the vehicle if the driver isn't required to be licensed, they said.

Mo-ped owners would not be required to pay Virginia's personal property tax, either, which is imposed on most other vehicles. However, they would have to pay a $20 registration fee and taxes.

Mo-ped dealers welcomed the new rules, though some said the regulations could go further.

"If it were me doing the law, I would say there should have to be some sort of scooter test," said Chris Brown, who sells the vehicles at Coleman PowerSports in Falls Church. "Anybody can come up here and buy a scooter and ride it off the lot. That's kind of ridiculous because you can kill yourself."

Bernard Gratzl, of Mopedland Inc. in Alexandria, said the rules should just be kept simple.

"Make it easy. Require picture ID and an address and some revenue," he said.

New rules requiring Maryland mo-peds to be titled and insured took effect Oct. 1.

The District is considering streamlining its rules so that more mo-ped users would have to file paperwork with the city.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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