Hello fellow electric vehicle owners,
I live in Chandler, AZ and have owned an XB-500 since the beginning of the year and have used it to get the 5 miles to work since (except when it was out of commission for repairs) and it has worked pretty well. A few months after I got it I got pulled over and the officer immediatly asked why it did not have a license plate and I presented her with a copy of Arizona's statute 28-2516:
28-2516. Motorized electric or gas powered bicycles or tricycles; definition
A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title:
1. A certificate of title is not required for a motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle.
2. Registration is not required for a motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle.
3. Vehicle license tax is not imposed on a motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle.
4. A motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle is exempt from the provisions of section 28-964 relating to required equipment on motorcycles and motor-driven cycles and from the provisions of title 49, chapter 3, article 5 relating to vehicle emissions inspections.
5. A driver license is not required to operate a motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle.
6. A motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle may use rights-of-way designated for the exclusive use of bicycles.
7. A motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle is not subject to chapter 9 of this title.
B. This section does not prohibit a local authority from adopting an ordinance that regulates or prohibits the operation of motorized electric or gas powered bicycles or tricycles, except that a local authority shall not adopt an ordinance that requires registration and licensing of motorized electric or gas powered bicycles or tricycles.
C. For the purposes of this section, "motorized electric or gas powered bicycle or tricycle" means a bicycle or tricycle that is equipped with a helper motor that has a maximum piston displacement of forty-eight cubic centimeters or less, that may also be self-propelled and that is operated at speeds of less than twenty miles per hour.
She said she would check it out and if it cleared I could be on my way otherwise I was getting a ticket, she sounded confident I was getting a ticket. So I waited about 10 minutes and then she came back, gave me my ID and the copy of the statute back, had me demonstrate the pedals actually work and then I was on my way. She even thanked me for educating her afterwards which really made me respect her. I also REALLY wish I would have made a note of her name and badge number so in the future if I had problems with other Chandler police I could contact her to prove she had already checked out I was legal.
Fast forward to tuesday of this week. So I am at the stop light that is on the same corner as the office building I work at and am waiting for the light to change so I can cross the street and a Chandler police car pulls up behind me, I just got that feeling he was going to stop me but I wasn't worried since I already went through this and was cleared I was legal. The light changes, I cross the street with patrol car right behind me and I turn on my left turn signal to turn into the parking lot at my office and the siren and lights go on.
Immediatly after the officer gets out of the car he asks why I don't have a license plate and I explain it is a motorized bicycle and does not require one, he scoffs at that and asks for my drivers license and I only have an ID which I hand him (he did NOT like I didn't have a drivers license and then asked if I have any warrants/etc which I said no). Well he comes back after about 10 minutes and says he is waiting to hear back from someone at HQ. At this point another officer had shown up, apparently I was a danger to society because this other officer did NOT show up because he could clear the matter up, he just showed up to "help out" in some other way. One officer said he didn't mind waiting since he is paid hourly, I explained I am not paid hourly but I still am missing work and my boss came outside and I pointed him out to the officer and waved which the officer did not seem to like. Gotta love seeing tax dollars used to keep the public safe especially with all the kidnappings, killings, etc and other crimes that go on DAILY down in the Phoenix area.
So now I have to hear about how my XB-500 can't be legal and that I must think I am really smart but am not smart because if it was legal every person with a suspended license as well as anyone under 16 would already own one to get around. One of the officers even said something like "jeez, if this was legal I would get one to save having to pay for registration, insurance, etc", they also joked about how they could sell them to people getting DUI's at the bar up the road and become rich. I informed them that it did not even travel faster than 20 mph so how is it any different then riding a non-motorized bicycle and he responded with something like "because you actually have to pedal the bike". I don't know how needing to pedal keeps the public safer but I just did not respond.
I had to take a lot of heckling and after 45 minutes a "head traffic officer" showed up who kept looking for a motor cc rating even though I explained about 10 times that it is an electric motor that does not have any cc rating on it (he claimed all electric motors are supposed to be marked with a cc rating?). I kept expalining that I seemed to be legal under the motorized bicycle statute since I never go over 20 mph and he said I was beating a dead horse and then went on to say the MVD would probably classify it as a moped because there is a conflicting statute that states a moped is a vehicle that can be human powered that travels at 25mph and under, so my claim that it did not go over 20mph fits that classification since it says "25mph and UNDER". He would not accept that the new motorized bicycle statute that was passed in 2007 made my XB-500 classify as a motorized bicycle and NOT a moped.
Eventually they let me go after threatening me that if they see me on it again they would confiscate it and see me in court. I even heard them trying to calculate how much money they could make off me giving me a ticket and havign to pay the $150 a day impound fee which would probably be for at least 30 days until I could get to court (I don't know if that is true). They were all confident a judge would rule it is not a bicycle but instead a moped and then I could be charged with hundreds if not thousands in fines/court costs.
So here is the AZ state statute 28-101 which includes the definition for a bicycle/tricycle:
6. "Bicycle" means a device, including a racing wheelchair, that is propelled by human power and on which a person may ride and that has either:
(a) Two tandem wheels, either of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter.
(b) Three wheels in contact with the ground, any of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter.
Well my XB-500 has two tandem wheels and both have diameters greater than 16 inches (not a WHOLE lot bigger but still bigger) so I appear to fit the definition of bicycle if I were to not have an engine. Now it does not state whether or not "wheel" means tire and rim or just rim, I would think if they meant not including the tire they would say rim though, can anyone clear this up?
Even if wheel size does not include tire then I think I would be covered and legal under a Chandler city code as a "toy vehicle". Here is the relevant part of the Chandler code from Chapter 12 (Chandler has no codes for mopeds OR motorized bicycles so this is the closest thing):
Vehicle, for the purposes of this chapter, shall be construed to embrace any means of transportation made use of in any way whatsoever for such transportation, including, but not limited to, automobiles, motorcycles, motor scooters, bicycles, trailers, wagons and carts.
Alleys are defined as any right-of-way for vehicular traffic in the City where the dedicated right-of-way is twenty-four (24) feet or less.
Motorized play vehicle means a coaster, scooter, any other alternatively fueled device (excluding battery operated toy carts designed for children under the age of eight (8) years to ride in or on) or other motorized vehicle that is self-propelled by a motor or engine and which is not otherwise defined in A.R.S. Title 28, as a "motor vehicle," "motor-driven cycle" or "motorized wheelchair."
So if the XB-500 were not to be classified as a bicycle due to the rim not being greater than 16 inches then it appears the city would view it as a "toy vehicle" since ARS Title 28 does not define it as a "motor vehicle," "motor-driven cycle" or "motorized wheelchair" and a toy vehicle also does not require licensing, registration, or insurance. The only downside to this classification is the code states toy vehicles cannot be driven on roads with posted speed limits over 35mph and there is one road I take to work that is 45mph but it has a bike lane which I use, so I don't know if because it has a bike lane that means I can use a "toy vehicle" in it.
Can anyone help me? Especially anyone who may also live in Arizona and has had to deal with police that want to classify motorized bicycles as mopeds even though the state law says otherwise? I am pretty upset I spent hundreds of dollars on my XB-500 and have put a lot of work into it only now to be threatened by Chandler police who have nothing better to do than harrass me and say they will take the XB-500 away if they see me on it again.
Thank you very much for any responses, they will be most appreciated!