LEVA's proposed changes to the California Vehicle Code

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robmeans
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The Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA) proposed changes to the CVC. LEVA's goal is stated in the Introduction: "To promote zero-emission, domestically-powered, appropriately-sized electric vehicles, the Light Electric Vehicle Association recommends changes to the CVC that will simplify the rules, reduce barriers, and fairly treat LEVs as viable transportation alternatives."

After meeting in February with Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Chairman Mark DeSaulnier, his staffer put me in touch with the Committee's Chief Consultant, Carrie Cornwell. After a conversation with the California Highway Patrol's Office of Special Representative, both Ms. Cornwell and the CHP agree that CVC changes are in order. Ms. Cornwell called to advise me the she and her counterpart in the Assembly will start the ball rolling on CVC changes in May with an expected stakeholders meeting in September and legislation of some sort to be proposed in January, 2013.

LEVA believes that all cyclists and pedestrians will benefit from more LEVs on the road and fewer cars.  Here are links to two documents that 1) provide an introduction and summary of the proposed changes, 2) specifically detail the CVC code sections to change, and 3) a spreadsheet overview of existing law and the changes proposed:
http://www.electric-bikes.com/cvc.pdf
http://www.electric-bikes.com/cvc-specifics.pdf
http://www.electric-bikes.com/cvc-survey.xls

All considered, these changes simplify the rules for smaller, slower vehicles - making them easier for enforcement personnel and the general public to know and remember. In particular, "motorized scooters" will be treated the same as bicycles because both 1) weigh about the same, 2) travel at similar speeds, 3) maneuver with similar agility, 4) are clean and quiet. These changes along with the introduction of medium-speed vehicles to California roads will encourage smaller, cleaner vehicles that make cycling safer and more enjoyable.

Comments from stakeholders, both individuals and organizations, are welcomed and will be passed along.

Rob Means, Legislative Advisor
Light Electric Vehicle Association LLC
408-230-2585 rob.means@electric-bikes.com
1421 Yellowstone Ave., Milpitas, CA 95035-6913
Serving the LEV Industry, www.LEVAssociation.com
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jdh2550_1
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Re: LEVA's proposed changes to the California Vehicle Code

Rob,

What's your definition of a "scooter"? Try this: go to google, enter search term "scooter" and click on the image tab. You'll see a whole bunch of widely different vehicles that someone somewhere thinks of as a "scooter".

I wish there was a better definition for each of these types of vehicle. It sure would make "messaging" easier!!

John H.

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MikeB
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Re: LEVA's proposed changes to the California Vehicle Code

robmeans wrote:

In particular, "motorized scooters" will be treated the same as bicycles because both 1) weigh about the same, 2) travel at similar speeds, 3) maneuver with similar agility, 4) are clean and quiet.

John is exactly right, the definition of 'scooter' is critical here. My 'scooter' weighs over 500lbs, has a 600cc 50hp engine, and a top speed over 100mph. Clearly, it's not the type of scooter you are referring to, but it's precisely the type of vehicle the DOT refers to as a 'scooter'.

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robmeans
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Re: LEVA's proposed changes to the California Vehicle Code

As LEVA is working to update the California Vehicle Code, we are using their terms. Currently, a "motorcycle", a "motor-driven cycle", and "motorized bicycle or moped" are defined in CVC sections 400, 405 and 406 (see http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate?WAISdocID=61828311881+0+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve ). If you have better terminology, please let me know so I can pass along the suggestions to the stakeholders meeting. Here is existing law:

405. A "motor-driven cycle" is any motorcycle with a motor that displaces less than 150 cubic centimeters. A motor-driven cycle does not include a motorized bicycle, as defined in Section 406.

406. (a) A "motorized bicycle" or "moped" is any two-wheeled or three-wheeled device having fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power, or having no pedals if powered solely by electrical energy, and an automatic transmission and a motor which produces less than 2 gross brake horsepower and is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than 30 miles per hour on level ground.

407.5. (a) A "motorized scooter" is any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, has a floorboard that is designed to be stood upon when riding, and is powered by an electric motor. This device may also have a driver seat that does not interfere with the ability of the rider to stand and ride and may also be designed to be powered by human propulsion. For purposes of this section, a motorcycle, as defined in Section 400, a motor-driven cycle, as defined in Section 405, or a motorized bicycle or moped, as defined in Section 406, is not a motorized scooter.

jdh2550_1
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Re: LEVA's proposed changes to the California Vehicle Code

Rob,

Unfortunately I don't have a good alternative for you. However, the CVC would appear to be in conflict with the FMVSS on their definition of "scooter". In the FMVSS section on braking they define a scooter as a motorcycle with a step through design (I don't have the FMVSS to hand so can't give the exact wording). In the FMVSS they use this definition to state that only scooters are allowed to have two hand brakes - motorcycles must have a hand brake for the front and a foot brake for the rear. Incidentally, a major gas manufacturer had to recently recall their product because it ran afoul of this (they had a motorcycle with a CVT and no foot brake.

From my perspective I wish that we could minimize the proliferation of different definitions of "scooter" within our various legal codes - however I doubt that there's much that can be done.

Good luck!

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John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

robmeans
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Re: LEVA's proposed changes to the California Vehicle Code

John,

Thanks for the heads-up on differing definitions at the national and state levels. In addition to your comments, I will point out the following to the stakeholders here in California. Frankly, distinguishing between motorcycles and scooters based on step-through vehicle design seems to leave a recumbent design in the motorcycle category.
--
http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/import/faq%20site/pages/page3.html
Importation and Certification FAQ’s
PART II
Group 2: Motorcycles and Scooters
1. How does NHTSA define a Motorcycle?
NHTSA defines the term “motorcycle,” for the purpose of the statute and regulations it administers, as “a motor vehicle with motive power having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with ground” (49 CFR 571.3).

NHTSA defines the term “motor driven cycle” as a motorcycle with a motor that produces 5-brake horsepower or less. A motor driven cycle is exempted from certain requirements of the FMVSS that apply to motorcycles.

NHTSA does not define the terms “motor scooter,” “moped,” “pocket bike,” “mini-chopper,” “mini-ninja,” or any other terms of this nature that may be used for the purpose of marketing motorcycles and motor driven cycles. Those terms therefore have no relevance to the classification of a vehicle for the purpose of determining which FMVSS would apply to it. Note that States are free to regulate the use of such vehicles and may use their own terms when describing vehicle types for the purpose of their regulations.

3. Requirements to lawfully import motorcycles or motor-driven cycles for on-road use.
If a motorcycle or motor driven cycle is capable of a top speed above 20 miles per hour and is equipped with components (such as lights, mirrors, and turn signals) that are needed for on-road use, NHTSA will regard it as having been primarily manufactured for such purposes. Motorcycles and motor-driven cycles with these capabilities and equipment cannot be lawfully imported into the U.S. unless they were originally manufactured to comply with all applicable FMVSS and bear a label certifying such compliance that is permanently affixed by the original manufacturer.

6. Scooters that are not motor vehicles
The following scooters or scooter-like vehicles are not “motor vehicles” that must be manufactured to comply with all applicable FMVSS and be so certified to be lawfully imported into the United States:
Scooters lacking seats that are operated in a stand-up mode.
Scooters that are incapable of a top speed above 20 mph.
Electric bicycles with operable pedals, and an electric motor of 750 watts or less, whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weights 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph.
--
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2005/08/30/05-17103/federal-motor-vehicle-safety-standards-motorcycle-controls-and-disp...
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Motorcycle Controls and Displays
V. As discussed in the previous sections, in this final rule, we adopt Alternative II proposed in the NPRM, and define a “scooter” category that is different from other motorcycles. In addition to the feature of platforms proposed in the NPRM, in this final rule, we add the feature of the step-through architecture, so the scooter definition consists of two parts, a motorcycle that has (1) a platform for the operator's feet or has integrated footrests, and (2) has a step-through architecture, meaning that the part of the vehicle forward of the operator's seat and between the legs of an operator seated in the riding position is lower in height than the operator's seat. Scooters with automatic transmissions (i.e., motorcycles without a clutch) are required to have a left hand rear brake control.Show citation box

In this final rule, FMVSS No. 123 continues to require non-scooter motorcycles with combined brake systems, and to require manual transmission scooters with combined brake systems, to have their single-point control be located at the right foot, the required location for the rear brake control. For clutchless scooters, however, this final fule requires that a single-point control for a combined brake system be located on the left handlebar.

wiger123
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Joined: 09/21/2012
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Re: LEVA's proposed changes to the California Vehicle Code

I also consider scooter as a motorcycle, it 's similar to bycyle

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wiger

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