More on mo-peds and scooters

Jason of Grand Haven asked, "I would like clarification on electric bicycles on the area 'bike' paths and sidewalks."
Mark Brooky
Jul 30, 2014


"They are oftentimes flying down the paths at 30-plus mph without pedaling," Jason continued. "I have noticed several from a local rental company downtown. Are these actually legal on sidewalks and 'bike' paths since they are technically a motorized vehicle? If not, why are the laws never enforced?"


Mo-ped operators must follow the same traffic rules as other motor vehicle operators, said Sgt. Steve Austin of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department's Traffic Services Division.

As a refresher, here is how state law defines a mo-ped: a motor vehicle with two or three wheels, has an engine that does not exceed 100-cc piston displacement, does not have a gearshift, and has a top speed of 30 mph or less on a level surface.

“Currently, scooter operators probably have no choice but to confine their scooter riding to private property,” Austin said. “Scooters fit within the definition of a mo-ped, therefore they must meet the legal criteria for a mo-ped. However, most scooters fail to meet the criteria because they are not designed with seats, lights or horns.”

Should you purchase a scooter that does not meet all of the legal requirements of a mo-ped, Austin says you cannot operate that vehicle on a public street or sidewalk. Failure to obey these laws will subject you to traffic violations (misdemeanor and civil infractions) and impoundment of the scooter by a law enforcement officer.

“Basically, if you ride a legally equipped and registered mo-ped, you must ride on the right edge of the roadway,” Austin said.

By state law, sidewalks and multi-use paths are off-limits for motorized vehicles, including mo-peds and scooters, and all other scooter-type vehicles must be used only on private property, Austin said.

To clarify an answer to a previous Mailbag question about mo-ped riding (“Side-by-side mo-peds,” July 25), the reader was really asking if it’s lawful for two people to ride on a mo-ped at the same time. It is not.

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Even though I am an avid cyclist myself, it sure would be nice to see some enforcement of the law (on both sides); the cyclists that blow through stop signs, ride electric-assist bikes at 30mph on the 'bike' paths, ride on the wrong side of the road or ride unsafely as well as the motorists who pretend we are invisible on the roadway and at intersections, or are downright aggressive or malicious (swerving at us, throwing things at us, etc...).

Doesn't Grand Haven Public Safety have officers with bikes? What about in Ferrysburg or Spring Lake? All they need to do is have an officer ride the paths to see the countless violations, or have an officer simply sit at 3rd and Pine hidden and watch all the motorists pretend a cyclist waiting to cross the intersection is totally invisible. They could also sit at Jackson and 31 and see the chaos in the crosswalks there when pedestrians or cyclists are trying to cross.

There is absolutely no enforcement on either side of the coin in this area, and it is becoming downright dangerous out there for us cyclists, while at the same time, some bad apples (normally the competitive ones) give us cyclists a bad name among motorists.

Grand Haven Happy

Mark, you'd better go back and talk to the Ottawa County Sheriff and the Michigan State Police again. My wife is disabled and has a 3 wheel electric so called scooter with NO pedals and she a;lso has a Handicapped Card and a Handicapped license on each vehicle and her scooter or an electric wheel chair are allowed on ALL sidewalks and they don't have any DOT required lights or safety equipment and NOT allowed on roads at all. They are approved by the Sheriff and State police etc everywhere on sidewalks by law unless operated dangerously to others. They ARE a motorized vehicle! Certainly won't go 30 mph but can go more than walk speed. It would be suicide to use them on roads or even on shoulders. She rides the sidewalks constantly in many states and has never been questioned nor stopped.


Yep, I believe there is an exception for those who are disabled and have the powered wheelchairs, and honestly, I have absolutely NO issue with disabled people using these on sidewalks or the paths.

The only ones I have issue with are the people who are not disabled using motor (electric or gas) vehicles on the sidewalks and paths.

Mark Brooky

I didn't think of those. My guess is that Jason is right, that there is an exception for those. If not, there should be one.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Profane, obscene, sexual or derogatory language.


How on earth would you have police officer,s patrolling bike path,s in this area, you know they are on a tight budget and do not have the money for extra patrol, the same story i heard on Mercury drive issue, just last week we had a naked biker on a bike path, heard on the police scanner, now that,s funny !!!

Barry Soetoro

Wasn't me.


Well, patrolling on bike would be a heck of a lot cheaper than sitting in a running car all day. I know GH already has police bicycles, I have just never seen them out and about.


Go down to Coast Guard and maybe those high school kids will be walking the board walk wearing only those G-string thong things that are about the size of a poker chip.

Barry Soetoro


You wouldn't happen to drive a van with curtains would you?


They have the collage trainees they could use.


Good idea, but no sidearms, those are the guys that shot houses from the North Ottawa Gun Range.


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