Mopeds are motorized bikes that do not meet the criteria for qualifying as motorcycles. Many California residents enjoy using mopeds as an alternative to walking or using public transportation. However, these vehicles are inherently dangerous and entail some specific risks all riders should know. Additionally, California has specific laws in place regarding mopeds and appropriate moped use.
California law defines as a moped as a vehicle meeting the following criteria.
Any vehicle with a larger engine size, higher horsepower, or any other parameter greater than the aforementioned criteria for a moped qualifies as either a motorized bike or a motorcycle depending on engine size, brake horsepower, and other vehicle features.
California only allows moped use for riders over the age of 16 as long as they wear appropriately fitted bicycle helmets. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, California does not impose any registration, or insurance requirements for mopeds. However, moped operators must have either M1 or M2 class licenses and purchase required auto insurance. Some motorized bicycles qualify for a one-time registration for special license plates, with no renewals required.
State law only allows riders to ride on streets with speed limits no greater than 25mph. On streets with higher speed limits, moped operators may travel in a bike lane if one is available. California does not allow any motorized vehicle usage on sidewalks, and some local areas may have specific laws pertaining to mopeds and where riders may operate them legally.
California is notorious for dense traffic and dangerous roads. Moped users are safest when they avoid major thoroughfares and stick to residential areas and side streets. If using a moped to commute to work, be sure to plan a safe route in advance that avoids major highways and other busy roads. A few best practices can help reduce the chances of a serious moped accident.
Remember, a moped offers the rider virtually no protection in a crash. An enclosed passenger vehicle’s frame, body panels, and doors can cushion the impact for those inside, but a moped rider has no protection at all. Do your best to drive safely, use bike lanes whenever possible, and try to anticipate the actions of other nearby drivers to reduce the risk of accidents.
California law requires all moped operators to wear appropriately fitted helmets at all times. A helmet can not only reduce your chance of suffering a serious head injury but also limit the risk of fatal traumatic brain injuries.
Mopeds offer virtually no protection in the event of a crash. Stay alert and refrain from distracting activities while riding your moped.
Mopeds are inherently dangerous vehicles, even for experienced riders. It is essential for all California moped operators to stay cautious and alert at all times. Moped riders should follow all applicable local laws while riding mopeds. Failure to abide by moped laws can easily lead to fines, and failure to ride a moped safely and responsibly can easily lead to catastrophic injuries or death.
If you or a loved one recently experienced a moped accident resulting from a defective vehicle or another party’s negligence, speak with a San Jose personal injury attorney as soon as possible to determine your most viable options for legal recourse.