Mopeds; Newest Craze!

Mopeds Newest Craze In Cheap Transportation

It looks like a fat bicycle or an undernourished motorcycle, but it’s really the motorized bicycle or “moped,” a machine fast becoming the newest American transportation rage. One must pedal the moped in order to get it started, but once in action, it can obtain speeds as high as 30 miles per hour with the aid of a small one to two horsepower engine. Long a practical and popular method of transit in parts of Europe, Bermuda and the Caribbean, the motorized bike only became legal for sale in this country last year when the federal government issued safety standards. So far 10 states have legalized the moped for use on their highways.  Enthusiasts say the federal move was triggered by the national energy crunch, the faltering economy and concerns for cleaner air. “Fifty percent of working people in America live within five miles of work.”The motorized bicycle is the most feasible, cheapest way of motorized transportation known to humanity,” said J. David Jones.  Jones is a somewhat prejudice source (he’s president of American Garelli East, an Italian bike manufacturer), but if the booming motorcycle industry is any indicator, mopeds should have plenty of market appeal.    Mopeds weigh between 56 and 100lbs get up to 220 miles per gallon and cost between $300 and $499. They’re also quieter than motorcycles and automobiles, supporters say. “Every time I ride a motorized bike I smile,” said Mark Rosenker of the Motorized Bicycle Association, an industry trade group. “I never met anyone who didn’t giggle a little bit and smile. It’s fun to ride and I can fill up my gas tank for 37 cents.”  There are 50 million mopeds in use all over the world, according to Serge Sequin, chairman of the association and vice president of Motobecane, another manufacturer. In the United States, some 50,000 people ride the machines.

So far, the only states to pass measures in their legislatures legalizing the machine are Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Ohio, Michigan. Nevada, California, Hawaii and New Jersey. Speed limits and engine capacity differ from state to state. In California, the speed limit is 30 m.p.h. while in New Jersey, the speed limit is placed at 25 m.p.h. New Jersey law restricts engine capacity to 1.5 horsepower. In Virginia, the engine can only be 1 horsepower. “Engines cannot be souped up.” said Rosenker. “It’s just not practical.”  When lobbying in state legislatures, he said, the association encourages the lawmakers to try the bike.” They realize it’s a slow-moving bike and not a motorcycle,” said Rosenker. “They think it’s going to take off and do wheelies. But you can’t vroom, vroom, vroom it.” Lobbying against mopeds is the motorcycle industry which claims the motorized bike needs greater safety training for it’s riders. But moped enthusiasts say the industry is afraid sales of mopeds might cut into motorcycles. New York Gov. Hugh Carey recently vetoed a moped bill after intense lobbying by the motorcycle industry.  Another version of the bill is to be introduced in the next legislative session. The New York measure would require insurance, a special driver’s license and registration of vehicles. Currently, a bicycle with any kind of motor cannot be driven in New York legally. Some of the states which have approved mopeds have no licensing or registration requirements. Most states have such requirements for motorcycles, and the laws are often rather stringent and elaborate. “It’s the safest form of transportation in the world,” Jones of Garelli said of mopeding.

By Delores Barclay
Associated Press Writer
Monday, November 24th, 1975