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March 17, 2014

Zooming through: Rules on mo-peds headed to governor's desk

New rules may keep mo-ped riders on the road

INDIANAPOLIS — Rep. Dave Wolkins could only oppose mo-ped regulations for so long, as more bikes zipped along the roads and were involved in an increasing number of accidents.

So Wolkins — who spent five years fighting to keep Indiana among the few states that don’t require a license, registration or insurance to operate the bikes — has led the push for regulation.

But the Republican from the small town of Winona Lake in northern Indiana set a condition: Limits on the vehicles and their riders couldn’t keep those most dependent on mo-peds off the road.

That includes the developmentally disabled who can’t get a regular driver’s license, Wolkins said. It also includes a constituency for which he has taken much grief — Hoosiers who’ve lost their privilege to drive a car, many for drunken driving.

“People joke I represent the DMRA — the Drunk Mo-ped Riders of America,” said Wolkins. “They think that’s who I sponsored this bill for.”

There is no such association, of course. But the regulatory legislation that Wolkins carried at the Statehouse was influenced by those he’s met who lost their licenses and ability to get insurance. In his rural home county, there are few alternate modes of transportation.

“I know these are people who’ve made bad decisions,” Wolkins said. “But I’d rather have them get on a mo-ped than behind the wheel of a car.”

Wolkins’ bill, passed by the House and Senate, creates two classifications of motor-driven cycle. Anything with a cylinder capacity exceeding 50 cubic centimeters is considered a Class A cycle. Drivers must obtain a valid license, proof of insurance and a plate issued by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to affix to the back of their bike.

Rules for Class B mo-peds — those with engines of 50 cubic centimeters or less — aren’t as strict. Riders won’t need a driver’s license but will be required to have a valid state ID, issued by the BMV after the rider passes a written test on road rules. Their bikes will be required to carry a BMV-issued license plate, but riders won’t be required to carry insurance. Cost for registering either kind of bike with the BMV will be under $30.

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