Gas Bike on the Right of Way

Question

Denver asked: I have been considering getting a 48cc gas engine kit for my beach cruiser, but according to recent laws (RS-68) would make it a moped and illegal to use on sidewalks, and illegal to use on roadways unless I got it registered and have at least a class E license, and can not be more than 50cc. I have several questions about this matter as I don’t want to have to register it and don’t want to get a license at this time.

1) If the engine is off and the bike is only being peddled can I ride it on the sidewalk and bike lane?

2) I have to have the bike registered and have a license to ride on roadways using the engine. Would I have to register the bike and have a license if I was to ride the bike on the ground beside the road and sidewalk (off road)?

3) If I can ride the bike off road without registering or a license, am I still limited to 50cc? Can I go above a 50cc engine because I am riding off road?

Answer

RS-68 is not a law. It is a DMV Procedure to define the means by which a bicycle with a gas assist motor can be modified to be a moped and comply with applicable laws and be operated on the roadways.

You can legally ride your bike with the engine off on a sidewalk or bike lane unless a local ordinance prohibits bicycles from sidewalks. The applicable statute refers to the type of power at the time and not the nature of the vehicle.

s. 316.1995Driving upon Sidewalk or Bicycle Path

(1) …. a person may not drive any vehicle other than by human power upon a bicycle path, sidewalk, or sidewalk area, except upon a permanent or duly authorized temporary driveway.

The area to which you refer is not off-road.  Note that the statute also covers the sidewalk area, which is not defined in the traffic statutes. However, that area is well described in other statutes related to driver’s licenses and registration.

In the chapter on driver’s licenses, the requirement applies to motor vehicles on a “highway”.

s. 322.03Drivers Must be Licensed; Penalties

(1) …. a person may not drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless such person has a valid driver license issued under this chapter.

A highway is the full area of the right of way including the roadway and the adjacent property to the outer boundary, which also includes the shoulder, sidewalk and the sidewalk area.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(53) Street or Highway

(a) The entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place of whatever nature when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular traffic ….

For registration, the requirement applies to motor vehicles on a “road”.

s. 320.02Registration Required; Application for Registration; Forms

(1) …. every owner or person in charge of a motor vehicle that is operated or driven on the roads of this state shall register the vehicle ….

The term “road” is not defined in the in the traffic statutes, but is defined in the chapter on public transportation. Note the similarity to the definition of Streets and Highways above.

TITLE XXVI

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

CHAPTER 334

TRANSPORTATION ADMINISTRATION

s. 334.003 – Definitions

(22) “Road” means a way open to travel by the public, including, but not limited to, a street, highway, or alley. The term includes associated sidewalks, the roadbed, the right-of-way, and all culverts, drains, sluices, ditches, water storage areas, waterways, embankments, slopes, retaining walls, bridges, tunnels, and viaducts necessary for the maintenance of travel and all ferries used in connection therewith.

Hence, you may not legally operate your bicycle under the power of the gas assist motor in the vicinity of any public roadway, highway, road, or sidewalk area without registering the vehicle and possessing a valid driver’s license.

As an aside, regarding the nature of the vehicle, we have opined in the past that a bicycle with a gas assist motor is still a bicycle if under only human power. That is consistent with statements by the DMV. However, you may want to consider that some may not agree with that position.

Considering the nature of the vehicle, just as an automobile in the garage with the motor off is still a motor vehicle, some might consider a bicycle with a gas assist motor on the roadway to be a motor vehicle even when operating under only human power. Such a determination by a law enforcement official might make you have to a defend citation for operating an unregistered motor vehicle without a driver’s license. The thought process might be “ The operator can operate under gas power until possibly observed by a law enforcement official, at which time the operator would turn off the motor and use only the pedals.”

4 comments on “Gas Bike on the Right of Way
  1. specialx says:

    Don’t go with a gas assist kit, unless you plan on registering it and have a driver’s license.
    Go with an electric kit, it’s much easier to deal with and you don’t need a license, as long as you go with an e-kit that only does 20mph…
    36v motor kit with a 10ah or more battery, will give you 20 mph capable and a 20 mile range.

    My kit is a 36v 40ah one and gives me an 80 mile range.

  2. Caleb Atzert says:

    This is stupid, I’ve had my bike for years and I can’t get my license! What does Florida have against us gas powered bikers? What’s really the difference between the gas and electric kits? You can still mod the both of them to go faster than 20.

  3. Geo says:

    Caleb,

    This is part of a post we made before the issue was settled that explains some of the reasons gas assist motor bikes are not legal.

    A change that would have expanded the definition to gas assist motors was proposed, but never was enacted.

    House of Representatives Staff Analysis Bill # CS/CS/CS/HB 1353
    Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
    Sponsor(S): Economic Affairs Committee, Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Transportation & Highway Safety Subcommittee, Albritton
    “Proposed Changes – The bill amends the definition of bicycle to remove the qualifier “electric” from the “helper motor” provision.”

    We believe that was purposely killed, and for the same reasons the initial legislation included only electric assist motors in the “bicycle” statutory definition.
    I am informed that it was strenuously opposed by many agencies, including counties and municipalities for the following reasons.
    1. Most eBikes are commercially produced and are designed and constructed to strict safety and reliability standards, and can be manufactured with strict controls on the operational limits of 20 mph.
    2. Many gas-assist bikes are homemade from add-on kits, and have no uniform design, construction and production standards, and operational limits are difficult to control.
    3. Non-uniform gas motor assist bikes present law enforcement with problems, including potential speed and safety. On this site, we have heard of many cases of law enforcement declaring them illegal for use on the roads.

    You can read the full post and comments here:
    http://flbikelaw.org/2013/07/bikes-with-gas-assist-motors-something-new/

    The laws were put in place by the legislation. If you don’t like the laws, you should address your concerns to someone who can do something about it instead of complaining to us.

    • David Harris says:

      Speaking of laws..You have the right to travel freely unmolested on or upon public highways. Look it up. Right to travel..driving is what you do if you’re a business making money in or on a vehicle. A motorized bicycle is a private conveyance. Unless you deliver pizza on said motorized bicycle.

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