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Motorized Scooters: Noisy Nuisances?

September 02, 2000|KATHRYN MacLAREN

Whether used for getting around or just having fun, this summer's hot fad is the motorized scooter. The scooters have caused a rift in the population that must dart around them and tolerate the noise they generate. KATHRYN MacLAREN spoke with a rider, someone bothered by them and a police official.

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MIKE NATANSON

25, Web developer, Santa Monica

Ihad a blast riding it all day today in the street, jumping the sidewalks.

I tried out a friend's scooter once before buying it. My friend loves it and drives all around on it. Since I work at home, I use it mostly for recreation, but might use it for work, to go for meetings if they are just a couple of miles away.

It is very portable and electric so you can get an adapter to plug in the wall and charge it. It probably would work in the dirt also, but I wouldn't take it off road.

People drive them all over, but you don't see them on busy streets. Mostly you find people using them in the same places where you see people riding bikes.

I probably will want to wear a helmet. I am not so sure about the laws, but I don't think they are dangerous; they only go up to 14 mph. I think bicycles are more dangerous.

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DANIEL EMGARD

26, Venice Beach

On the beach bike path, they still ride the motorized scooters, not as much lately because the police have caught up on it. The scooters are very noisy. People come here to enjoy the beach and exercise, bike and go rollerblading.

I personally don't like the scooters. They may be fun, but they are just too loud--no good at the beach. I see a lot of people my age and older riding them and you only see a few who wear helmets. I have a lot of friends who have them and ride them down here to the beach. The whole purpose of coming down to the the beach is to get some exercise. But instead, people just put themselves on another motorized vehicle. It loses the whole point for me. It's fine in the city to use them to get around, go to the market, whatever. It was fun in the beginning, but not now when you see them racing around the beach.

Some are fuel-powered and that really pollutes. I hope that they regulate them and don't allow them on the beach bike path.

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JACQUELINE SEABROOKS

Lieutenant, Santa Monica Police Department Office of Special Enforcement, Traffic Division

The minimum age for Go-Ped use is 16. All Go-Ped operators are required to wear a helmet as, by law, motorized scooters are considered motor vehicles. As such, lights are required when a scooter is operated during hours of darkness; laws regarding driving while intoxicated also apply to scooter operation.

Additionally, the riding of motorized scooters on sidewalks is prohibited. Further information regarding motorized scooter use may be found in the California Vehicle Code, Sections 21220-21266.

Since the California Legislature legalized the use of these scooters beginning Jan. 1, 2000, ridership has increased significantly. The popularity of these scooters in Santa Monica has increased as well. Because they are deemed motor vehicles, their use is prohibited on the beach bicycle path and on the Third Street Promenade. Where the scooters are operated on a roadway, they must be operated as close to the right curb as possible unless there is a designated bicycle lane; where a bicycle lane is present, the scooter is to use the bicycle lane.

Initially, there was an increase in the number of complaints regarding scooter operation; however, as the legality of these scooters has become more widely known, the number of complaints has decreased. To date, we have had no reported traffic collisions involving motorized scooters.

In those areas where we have identified increased scooter ridership, we have undertaken measures to inform the riders and, where appropriate, their parents regarding the laws governing motorized scooter use. With the advent of the school year, we will continue our information campaign.

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