The popularity of mopeds and scooters continues to rise across the country, and so do the rates of accidents and fatalities. Offering an economical way to get from place to place, these slower, more stable versions of motorcycles are appealing to many people. However, it’s important that riders take the same safety precautions expected of motorcyclists, and be aware of the licensing and registration laws in their states of residence.
Are Mopeds and Scooters the Same Thing?
Both riders and dealers often use the terms “moped” and “scooter” interchangeably, but a moped is technically a motorized bicycle. This means that a moped can either be propelled by a motor (mo) or by the rider using pedals (ped). These vehicles are much less common than they once were, and most riders are actually using motor scooters. For the purposes of state laws, the concern is not so much how the vehicle is propelled; it’s how big of an engine it has and how fast it’s capable of traveling.
Laws regarding motorcycles differ from state to state but, in general, a motorcycle is a two-wheeled vehicle capable of speeds greater than 30 mph. Whether you call the two- or three-wheeled vehicle a motorcycle or a scooter, if it can reach street speeds, it has to be licensed and registered as a motorcycle.
Moped and Motorcycle Laws in Kansas and Missouri
In Kansas, a vehicle is considered a motorized bicycle or moped if it:
- Has two or three wheels.
- May be propelled by human power, a helper motor, or both.
- Has a motor which produces not more than 3.5 brake horsepower; a cylinder capacity of not more than 130 cubic centimeters; an automatic transmission; and a maximum speed of 30 mph.
Mopeds must be registered with the Kansas DMV and riders must carry insurance. If your scooter is capable of exceeding 30 mph, it qualifies as a motorcycle and you’ll be required to have a motorcycle operator license as well.
Missouri law differs from Kansas. In Missouri, a moped is limited to:
- A cylinder capacity of not more than 50 cubic centimeters
- A motor which produces not more than 3 brake horsepower, and a maximum speed
of 30 mph.
These smaller cycles don’t require licensing, insurance, or registration in Missouri. A rider doesn’t need a special operator’s license, but still must be a licensed driver. A cycle with an engine larger than 50cc that can exceed 30 mph falls under the same laws as motorcycle and the operator will need a Missouri motorcycle license.
In both Kansas and Missouri, municipalities may add additional restrictions for mopeds and scooters—including which roads you’re permitted to ride on—so it’s important you understand your own community’s rules.
Maintain Safety at Any Speed
Whether your cycle is considered a moped, scooter, or motorcycle, basic safety rules remain the same. The biggest threat to cycle riders of any size is the difficulty other drivers have seeing you, so making yourself visible is a key safety consideration. Also, your head hitting the pavement at 30 mph can do as much damage as hitting it at 50 mph, so a helmet is a necessity riding on any cycle.
Consider the following safety guidelines when riding your moped or scooter:
- Wear safety gear. A helmet, clothing that covers your skin, gloves, and boots all serve to protect you in a crash. Even while riding at slower speeds on a moped you can suffer road rash, head injuries, and broken bones in a crash, so protect yourself before you head out.
- Obey traffic laws. If it’s legal for you to ride in a lane of traffic, you must obey the same traffic laws as other vehicles. If your moped isn’t permitted on the street, make sure it’s legal for you to ride in a bike lane or pedestrian zone. If you’re riding your moped in these areas, you’re subject to bicycle and pedestrian laws.
- Make yourself visible. Slower cycles are even harder for other vehicles to deal with because not only are they hard to see, they often cannot keep up with traffic speeds, making them a hazard. Wear reflective gear and use lights and signals to help protect you.
- Understand your limits. Never ride your moped or scooter where it’s not designed to go. This includes riding on roads with speed limits you’re not capable of reaching and riding on terrain your bike cannot handle. Follow manufacturer instructions for the safest operation of your scooter.
Have You Been Injured In A Motorcycle Accident?
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident you need to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816-471-5111 to schedule your free consultation.
You can also order your FREE copy of our book, “KC Biker Bible.”