July 7, 2006
You may have seen those mini-motorcycles zipping through the streets of Charlottesville in recent months. New laws say they won't be in traffic anymore.
Legislations all around the country have been trying to deal with this "pocket bike" craze for years. Virginia has taken the step to take these bikes completely off the streets.
"A lot of folks are getting hurt on these little conveyances. A lot cars are calling up and complaining that they didn't even see the person," said Sgt. Mike Farruggio.
A pocket bike or pocket rocket is a motorcycle designed for children or teenagers. Now, these bikes are illegal on the streets of the Commonwealth thanks to the new legislation.
"They were concerned about the safety--being able to be seen on that sort of thing. They were wanting to know how to relegate that," said Dave Munn with Moto Virginia.
The law was designed to target low riding motorcycles and not mopeds like this Vespa. The idea, get those low riding bikes off the streets and keep everybody safe.
"They are just a danger and an accident waiting to happen. We've already had some very serious accidents as history will show us in Charlottesville," Farruggio said.
That history includes the death of a 9-year-old girl in January of 2005. To be considered a moped and be legal for the streets, the new laws require the seat be at least 24 inches high and the motor be no more than 50 CC's. Munn says even though the pocket bikes are banned on the roads, they still have there place in culture.
"The pocket rockets are meant for riding in a parking lot somewhere on the weekends and having fun and not for transportation," he said.
A 50 CC engine will reach top speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour. Any engine larger than that, reaching speeds higher than that will be considered a motorcycle and require a license, registration and VIN number. Charlottesville police say they will be issuing warnings and tickets for violations in the near future.