Motor for a Four-Wheeled Rhoades Car

Question

Dave asked: I want to buy a 4 wheel pedal powered ( bike for 2 ) factory built vehicle which is like  two bikes hitched together, for two people. It does not quite fit the definitions that I have seen on this site, but is no different than two bikes traveling together. It is sold as a  “Rhoades Car”. If I install an electric assist motor, how will it be considered?

Answer

The basis of bicyclists the rights and duties of other drivers and the licensing and registration requirements lies in the fact that they are human powered vehicles or motorized bicycles powered by electric assist motors.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(2) Bicycle – Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. …..

s. 316.2065Bicycle Regulations

(1) Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this chapter

Since the Rhoades Car meets the requirement that it is human powered, those “same rights a duties as other drivers” would apply. It could also be operated on sidewalks or bike paths.

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.

Registration is not required since it is not a motor vehicle.

s. 320.02Registration Required; Application for Registration; Forms

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, 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 in this state.

For the purpose of registration:

s. 320.01Definitions, General

(1) “Motor vehicle” means:

(a) An automobile, motorcycle, truck, trailer, semitrailer, truck tractor and semitrailer combination, or any other vehicle operated on the roads of this state, used to transport persons or property, and propelled by power other than muscular power, but the term does not include traction engines, road rollers, special mobile equipment as defined in s. 316.003(48), vehicles that run only upon a track, bicycles, swamp buggies, or mopeds.

Similarly, a driver’s license is not required.

s. 322.03Drivers Must be Licensed; Penalties

(1) Except as otherwise authorized in this chapter, 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.

For the purpose of drivers’ licenses:

s. 322.01 – Definitions

(27) “Motor vehicle” means any self-propelled vehicle, including a motor vehicle combination, not operated upon rails or guideway, excluding vehicles moved solely by human power, motorized wheelchairs, and motorized bicycles as defined in s. 316.003.

Since your vehicle has four wheels, it would meet the “same rights and duties as other drivers” provisions but would not meet the definition of “bicycle” above (two front or two rear wheels).

Hence, with an electric assist motor, it could not be a motorized bicycle as defined in 316.003 above, and would be a motor vehicle subject to the registration and driver’s license requirements to be operated on the roads.

It could not be driven on sidewalks or bike paths under motor power (See above).

Also see these related posts:

http://flbikelaw.org/2012/12/four-wheel-pedal-vehicle/

http://flbikelaw.org/2015/05/surrey-bikes-in-the-bike-lane/

Posted in Ask Geo, Definitions, Motorized Bicycles, Rights & Duties

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