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Tiny 'cycles not street-legal

September 03, 2004

According to an opinion from the Maryland Attorney General's office, those tiny motorcycles known as "pocket bikes" aren't legal for use on Maryland's public roadways.

It's a welcome opinion for those motorists who've had to dodge them on the roads. But in our view, parents deserve some of the blame, because most riders we see on these devices are too young to legally drive a car or a full-size motorcycle.

In an Aug. 9 opinion, Assistant Attorney General Bonnie Kirkland ruled that the pocket bikes are subject to the same laws as vehicles, including registration.

That can't happen, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles, who said they don't meet the standards for registration as a street-legal motorcycle.

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That's contrary to a July 2003 letter e-mailed to Patrick Mayhew, owner of VIP Mobility on Hagerstown's South Potomac Street, a letter that suggests that the pocket bikes are subject to the same laws as those that govern bicycles.

Mayhew has told The Herald-Mail that he never would have sold the vehicles had he not first checked out their legality.

It wouldn't be the first time that government has cost business money with a change of policy, but in this case, we believe the change was the right one.

That's because underage riders of these vehicles aren't mature enough to consider what might happen if a driver doesn't see them.

Drivers of full-size motorcycles complain that automobile drivers don't pay them enough heed, so what chance do riders of a 2-foot-tall bike have of making drivers notice them?

Because youngsters won't always consider these issues, adults must. Just because something can be purchased legally doesn't mean it's safe. It's up to parents to make that call.

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