The rising cost of gasoline paired with the hot summer has prompted a lot of people to break out the motorized two-wheelers. The number of mopeds, scooters and motorcycles on local streets and roadways has increased over the past several years.

The rising cost of gasoline paired with the hot summer has prompted a lot of people to break out the motorized two-wheelers. The number of mopeds, scooters and motorcycles on local streets and roadways has increased over the past several years.

While cruising on a motorized two-wheel vehicle seems fun, it also comes with responsibilities, safety concerns and licensing restrictions. The New Albany Police Department receives several calls about the licensing requirements and restrictions on operating these vehicles.

The most common question we receive concerns the difference between mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles. By the state's definition, a moped (motorized bicycle) is a vehicle capable of being pedaled and equipped with a helper motor. The motor must not exceed more than 50cc displacement, produce more than one brake horsepower, and propel the vehicle at more than 20 mph on a level surface. A list of approved mopeds is available on the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles' Web site at www.ohiobmv.com. Remember, just because a dealer says it is a moped does not mean it is not actually a motorcycle or scooter.

To operate a moped on a public street, it must be driven within 3 feet of the right edge of the roadway and must be equipped with a valid license plate. The operator of a moped must have either a valid moped license (which may be obtained at 14 years of age or older) or a valid driver's license. An operator of a moped who is under the age of 18 is required to wear a helmet. It is illegal for anyone to carry a passenger on a moped, even if the seat accommodates two riders.

A motorized, two-wheel vehicle that does not meet the definition of a moped is, by law, a motorcycle. In essence, a scooter is a motorcycle and is subject to the same laws and regulations as a motorcycle. Whether the two-wheel vehicle is a 75cc scooter or a 1300cc motorcycle, the motor vehicle laws of Ohio consider them the same. For example, a scooter and motorcycle both must be properly licensed to operate on any public street or roadway.

Often, there is a misconception that because a scooter is smaller and cannot go as fast, an individual does not need a motorcycle endorsement. The operator of either a scooter or motorcycle is required to have a valid driver's license with a motorcycle endorsement to operate a scooter or motorcycle on a public street. If you operate a scooter or motorcycle with only a valid driver's license (and not the required motorcycle endorsement), you could be arrested for operating a motor vehicle without a valid license and have your scooter or motorcycle impounded.

To obtain a motorcycle license or endorsement, you must be at least 16 and pass a written exam to obtain a temporary motorcycle license (valid for 12 months). You then must pass a road test on a street-legal motorcycle. You must wear a helmet with a temporary motorcycle permit and for the first-year probationary period after receiving your motorcycle endorsement. You may carry passengers after you receive your endorsement, but not with a temporary permit. You must always wear eye protection, and in the interest of safety, you should always wear a helmet, close-toed shoes or boots and protective clothing. Additional licensing information is available on the BMV's Web site.

Mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles are fun, fuel-efficient and practical. As an avid motorcyclist with more than 20 years of road experience, I fully realize both the benefits and inherent risks in operating a motorcycle. By making sure you operate your two-wheel vehicle within the parameters of the law, you can help us keep our local streets safe for everyone.

Mark Chaney is chief of the New Albany Police Department and can be reached at (614) 855-1234.

Mark Chaney