The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles states under mopeds' definitions and requirements that a moped is a motorized bicycle and that the vehicle must have a cylinder capacity of no more than 50 cubic centimeters, have an automatic transmission, be capable of a speed of no more than 30 miles per hour and comply with all federal motor vehicle laws. The key to this posting is that a moped can have a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour, but cannot be operated at a speed greater than 25 miles per hour.

According to Chapter 90 of Massachusetts General Laws on the operation of a low-speed vehicle in the state, a low-speed vehicle is a motor vehicle that cannot legally be operated at a speed greater than 25 miles per hour. Therefore a moped is a low-speed vehicle. Chapter 90 states in two sections that such vehicles shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth, except limited access on express state highways or on any public way with a speed limit of more than 30 miles per hour. Furthermore it states that “a municipality may, by ordinance, prohibit the operation of low-speed vehicles on a way within its jurisdiction and under its control, regardless of posted speeds, where it finds that use of the way by low-speed motor vehicles would represent an unreasonable risk of death or serious injury to occupants of low-speed vehicles because of general traffic volumes, use of the way by heavy trucks or other large vehicles or if established speed limit on the way increases above 30 miles per hour beyond the point where a low-speed vehicle could safely exit the way. The municipality shall post signs where necessary to provide notice to the public of such prohibited access.”

Mopeds are also allowed to pass on the right side of the road, can ride side by side down the road and enjoy all the rights of a motorcycle without the restriction of having a motorcycle license or plated registration. What they cannot do is to operate on a public way if the speed limit is above 30 miles per hour, or if the way is posted for above stated reasons by a municipality. My point is if the information that I have found on the state RMV and the state general laws sites are true, how is it that so-called mopeds are allowed to operate on all the Vineyard roads? There are few roads on this Island where the speed limit is under 30 miles per hour. Also, in case no one has noticed, traffic volume is out of hand, heavy trucks are everywhere, VTA vehicles are large vehicles and everywhere. If all the above is true as per government websites, then I submit that the towns of this Island should enforce these laws as set out buy the commonwealth and post signs as to the restriction of slow-moving vehicles on all up-Island roads, to enforce the 30 miles per hour law, to enforce the 25 miles per hour maximum speed law.

At this time I do believe that someone will get killed or seriously injured if the towns do not act soon. What happens if we have not enforced these laws? Does a lawsuit come to mind? How about the operator of a heavy vehicle? How can you tell them it’s not their fault they just killed someone? Also, I think that anyone who makes money renting these vehicles should spend more time educating their renters as to the hazards and how to avoid them! If the towns on this Island take this issue to heart, maybe we can avoid a very serious situation on behalf of everyone.

Keith Linscott

Oak Bluffs