Quadricycle and Rights and Duties

Question

Steve asked:

Do y’all think it would be a good idea to have the law changed to specifically define quadricycles as bicycles so that they can be legally ridden like any other bicycle?

Answer

I assume you are referring to human powered quads. You are correct that a quad is not a bicycle since it has four wheels.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(4) Bicycle – Every vehicle propelled solely by human power …. having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. ….

However, that does not limit the operation of such a vehicle on the roads, since the rights and duties are not just for the operator of a bicycle, but for the operator of any human powered vehicle.

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 ….

The fact that it is a human powered vehicle allows operation on a sidewalk.

(9) A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

 s. 316.1995 – Driving 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 ….

The only time a motorized bicycle is allowed on a sidewalk or bike path is when there is a local ordinance permitting it.

The primary circumstance that would make the vehicle different from a bicycle regarding rights and duties would be adding an electric assist motor, which is legal for a motorized bicycle but not for a motorized quad vehicle, since the quad vehicle has four wheels and is not a bicycle.

Continuing from the Definitions, above,

…. 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 ….

A motorized quad would be considered a motor vehicle and must meet all the requirements for such a vehicle.

Another circumstance affecting the rights and duties might be a local ordinance prohibiting the operation of bicycles on sidewalks.

s. 316.008Powers of Local Authorities

(h) Regulating the operation of bicycles.

It would not apply to the quad unless so specified in the ordinance.

A change to the laws is not required. A human powered quad can be operated just like a human powered bicycle.

3 comments on “Quadricycle and Rights and Duties
  1. HarryB says:

    Geo wrote: “The primary circumstance that would make the (quad) vehicle different from a bicycle regarding rights and duties would be adding an electric assist motor . . .” and “A human powered quad can be operated just like a human powered bicycle.”

    I’m afraid I can not agree with these statements because none of the restrictions that are placed upon bicyclists in section 316.2065 apply to anyone operating a quadricycle. For example, § 316.2065(3)(d) requires that anyone under the age of 16 who is riding upon a bicycle must wear a bicycle helmet, but that restriction does not apply to people operating or traveling upon or in other vehicles such as quads.

    Or consider § 316.2065(5)(a): “Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway . . ..” These restrictions only apply to bicyclists, so anyone operating a quad may choose any lateral roadway position that is available to the drivers of other vehicles such as motor vehicles.

    Also, the lighting requirements for quads are different than those for bicycles, and there does not seem to be a requirement that they have brakes.

    Geo also wrote: “A change to the laws is not required.”

    A few years ago a small business was considering purchasing some Surrey quadricycles and was trying to understand the legalities of operating them on the roadways and sidewalks, including a busy, high speed state highway. As I have noted above, they are regulated differently than bicycles, and the LEO who attempted to answer the question was confused. And if I remember correctly, there was also a question of how the new (at that time) definition and regulation of “commercial megacycles”, which includes vehicles with “at least 5 but no more than 15 seats for passengers”, applied to one of the Surrey models that has four bench type seats that can accommodate up to nine adults and two children. The business was not interested in a commercial megacycle (which are often operated as beer party wagons), but the uncertainty may have been enough for them to drop the idea. This appears to be another example of sloppy legislation.

    So, I would not be so quick to dismiss the OP’s concerns.

  2. Steve says:

    Then it seems to me that if the definition of bicycle is changed to include two front and/or two rear wheels then an electric assist quad could be operated the same as a two or three wheel bicycle, like recumbent trikes are now pedaled or power assisted. Currently, an electric assist recumbent tadpole trike fits within the definition of a bicycle, assuming you don’t exceed the 20 mph limit. Are we saying that if you change the rear end to put two wheels in the back, instead of one that we now have a vehicle and not a bicycle? I say we still have a bicycle since it still has the same drive train and power source and therefore, need to clarify the law as I stated above with the two wheels in the front and/or two wheels in the rear.

  3. Geo says:

    Steve,

    The present law says two front OR two rear wheels. You are correct that if it said two front and/or two rear wheels, it would be a bicycle.

    The problem with a recumbent so equipped would be the minimum 25 inch seat height, which was incorporated in the law before recumbents became popular. A tadpole or other recumbent with a seat height of less than 25 inches would not be a bicycle and would have the same legal technical problem with motor power as the quad. The same rights and duties provisions above would apply to the human powered recumbent. That was not the question so I did not include that section of the law in the original post.

    s. 316.003 – Definitions also includes,
    ” The term (bicycle) does not include such a vehicle with a seat height of no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position or a scooter or similar device.”

    The seat height problem is one of the legislative items under consideration by the FBA. If you think clarification is needed regarding quads, you should contact the FBA or your legislators.

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