CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – New Hampshire police are trying to decide what motor vehicle rules apply to a new craze – pocket bikes that are about 16 inches tall with speeds of up to 40 mph.

The miniature motorcycles sell for as little as $200 and retailers say they can’t keep them in stock.

Derry Police Chief Edward Garone said officers are telling riders to get off public roads or they’ll be ticketed for offenses ranging from driving an unregistered motor vehicle to operating without a license.

Meanwhile, groups of enthusiasts have sprung up around the state to race the tiny bikes in large parking lots.

State officials acknowledge the laws don’t specifically address new technologies like the bikes – which means police are treating the machines as everything from motorcycles, mo-peds to motorized toys.

“The motor vehicle code spells out what is a motor vehicle, and the requirements for them to be registered. It’s not a motorcycle or snowmobile. It doesn’t exist in the law,” said James VanDongen, spokesman for the Department of Safety.

Mo-peds are treated differently under the law than motor vehicles. Mo-peds can go no faster than 30 mph and have gas engines no larger than 50 cubic centimeters. Riders don’t need a motorcycle license, just an ordinary driver’s license.

But mo-peds are required to have certain safety features, such as brake and headlights. They also must be registered with the state and display a plate.

Manchester officials are considering treating pocket bikes like motorized scooters. This spring, the city adopted an ordinance that regulates scooters’ operation.

The ordinance requires riders to be at least 16 years old and addresses issues such as safety equipment and speed limits. The city does not require riders to have a driver’s license, but they must pay a $5 fee to register the scooter with police and obtain a license plate.

Portsmouth police are taking a strong stance against pocket bikes, warning riders they face citations if caught on public roads. Concord police say they have pulled over the bikes to find the owners registered them as mo-peds.

Garone wants lawmakers to clear up the confusion by establishing rules for the bikes. He worries they pose too great a safety hazard on the road because other drivers won’t see them.

AP-ES-07-25-04 1250EDT



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