Maura In The News

Minis pulled up short
By David Ertischek/ Staff Writer - West Roxbury Transcript
Thursday, July 8, 2004

Mini-bike riders will now have to obey the same laws that motorcyclists do thanks to a unanimous vote by the City Council.

"These vehicles are noisy and disruptive and they pose a threat to the safety of the city's neighborhoods," said District City Councilor John Tobin. "They are a danger to the children who ride them on our city's busy streets and they are a hazard to the drivers of cars, trucks and buses who cannot see them on the roads."

The ordinance sponsored by City Councilor Charles Yancey says all gas-powered vehicles capable of moving without human thrust need to follow the rules of the road.

No matter what you call them - scooters, powerboards, mini-motor bikes - a driver must be licensed, wear a helmet and have his vehicle registered with an inspection sticker.

The legislation was prompted by the popularity of the mini-motor bikes in Boston. The bikes often resemble small motorcycles and can be as short as 18 inches to as tall as 3 feet.

And not only are they low to the ground, making them difficult to see, but some of the tiny vehicles can go up to speeds of 50 mph.

As of Tuesday night, Mayor Thomas M. Menino had yet to sign the ordinance, putting it into law. Lisa Pollock of the mayor's press office said Menino was reviewing it.

Consalvo proud

District Councilor Rob Consalvo was proud of the City Council. "We didn't want to wait for the Registry of Motor Vehicles on their ruling. The backbone of this is that there was a gray area in the in the laws because there were no laws that pertained to the mini bikes," he said.

Consalvo applauded Tobin and the other city councilors for "taking away that gray area" within the laws.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles was still looking at what laws pertained to the mini-motor bikes in Boston.

Also, smartly while the ordinance was being reviewed by the city council, Consalvo added an amendment that was quickly approved unanimously to give police the authority to impound motorbikes.

"Why allow an 8-year-old to be able to get back on the bike after telling them to walk it home? We all know that the kid is just going to get back on the bike right after the police leave."

Previously, the enforcement of the mini-motor bike laws were an unknown area, too. But the Boston Transportation and Police departments will be allowed to enforce the motorcycle laws under the ordinance.

Hennigan pleased

City Councilor Maura Hennigan sounded off on the issue, "It's not much of an issue in West Roxbury. I tell you, in Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury they're everywhere."

"They're so tiny and the people have no regard for the laws of the road. They're completely oblivious. It's frightening to me and to them, and god forbid the person who hits them. There's no plates, no helmet, no nothing."

Hennigan added that she had sent a letter to Boston Police Commissioner Katherine O'Toole detailing the ordinance, to alert police officers citywide.

Drivers who do not follow the motorcycle laws can be fined $25 for a first offense and $50 for a second offense. But of course, they must be at least 16 and be a licensed driver.

Consalvo added, "There are unlicensed and unregistered drivers as young as 8- or 9-years-old riding up and down one-way streets, down sidewalks. Every community meeting that I've attended over the last two or three months, have begun with 'When are we going to do something about these mini bikes?' Well, now we have."

David Ertischek can be reached at [email protected]



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