Things to know
Before discounting the idea of owning a scooter as knee-jerk folly, consider the advantages:
- Scooters are more budget-friendly than motorcycles. Depending on engine size, you can buy a new scooter for as low as $1,000.
- Most scooters average more than 70 mpg, with some getting almost 100 mpg.
- You can fill a scooter’s gas tank for less than $5.
- Scooters are easier to mount than motorcycles, equating to easier maneuverability.
- Besides a helmet, scooters require no special riding gear, allowing you to ride to work in a suit.
- Scooters are faster than mopeds, blending effortlessly with the pace of city traffic.
- Scooters are easier to park than cars and motorcycles. Most cities allow scooters to be chained to trees, street lamps and bike racks.
- The first motor scooter, an auto-fauteuil, was invented in France in 1902.
- The first contemporary motorized scooter was invented in 1946 by Enrico Piaggio.
- Vespa, the name of the Piaggio’s first scooter, means “wasp” in Italian.
- The Vespa gained international recognition in 1953 when Audrey Hepburn rode one with Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday.
- The United States is the only nation in the free world to have had a politician named “Scooter” (Libby).
- There are more scooters than cars in Vietnam.
Unlike motorcycles, scooters lack the bad-ass safety option of a loud exhaust pipe. Consequently, the pressure falls upon you to increase motorist awareness of your presence. To do this, you should adhere to the following practices:
- Wear bright clothing.
- Avoid riding in the proverbial “blind spots.”
- Always give ample indication before turning.
- Check your rearview mirror every five to seven seconds.
- Exercise extra caution when approaching intersections.
Be informed of your state’s regulations before revving down your street. Rules vary by state. Some states treat scooters on par with skateboards and in-line skates. While others are more regulatory, requiring helmets and motorcycle licenses.
You’ll find most state rules are based on a scooter’s engine size. Generally, any scooter with an engine under 50 cc is considered a moped, requiring less regulation. Whereas scooters with engine sizes greater than 50 cc are grouped in the motorcycle category, entailing helmets, special licenses, insurance and other bureaucratic conformities.
Massachusetts State Law
According to Massachusetts law, a moped is a "motorized bicycle." In order to be classified as a moped, the vehicle must:
- Have a cylinder capacity of no more than 50 cubic centimeters.
- Have an automatic transmission.
- Be capable of a maximum speed of no more than 30 miles per hour.
- Comply with all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.
A moped sticker, issued by the RMV, must be affixed to the moped. This sticker will not be issued unless the vehicle meets the above requirements.
Moped operators are subject to the traffic laws, rules and regulations of the Commonwealth.
Mopeds will have the right to use all public ways in the Commonwealth, except limited access or express state highways where signs prohibiting bicycles have been posted.
Mopeds may use bicycle lanes next to various ways but are excluded from off street recreational paths.
Moped operators must signal their intention to stop or turn by using either hand.
Mopeds may keep right when passing a motor vehicle which is in the travel lane of a way.
Restrictions When Operating a Moped
Mopeds will not be operated:
- By any person under 16 years of age.
- By any person who does not have a valid license or permit.
- At a speed greater than 25 miles per hour.
- Without the operator and any passenger wearing a DOT standard helmet.