Do pusher trailers have to abide by the same laws?

Discussion in 'Laws, Legislation & Emissions' started by nwohater, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. nwohater

    nwohater New Member

    Law is all about technicality, those of you who've looked into the laws in many states are aware of that... Can't ride on sidewalks can't ride in bike lanes, must ride in bike lanes, can't ride sidewalks, must be under 50cc or under 35cc or electric only some places if it's a tuesday and only after the last wednesday of the month.

    Back and forth and different from state to state. But all that applies to bikes with motors on them, is a motor on a trailer even covered under any states laws and if so does it mean I'm supposed to ride where and when exactly and what motor limits apply to trailers? What about a little 50cc gas generator driving am electric hub motor just to get decent range is that electric or gas by law or both?

    It's all so confusing. I want to be able to motor along leisurely. I can ride an unpowered bike on the sidewalk here which I like to do to stay away from traffic as much as possible but I can't motor along on the sidewalk legally and would draw attention with a motor on the bike. What if I have a trailer with a hidden motor, should I be discovered would I escape the law? I can pedal as fast as I want on the sidewalk here, my husky could pull me fast and far as he can anywhere, faster than most motors so really what is the point of all this?

    I'm just interested in getting around safely and cheaply really, not really trying to pull anything over on anyone but absolutely can't afford tickets and sure don't want to be hassled all the time.

    I have back problems that make my range extremely limited pedaling, and I need range and hillclimbing help so just hard to see where this all stands and if i can get along safe and cheap and save any gas or not. I feel like I'm forced to pay at the pump and drive a car and pay for insurance just to make others rich while not caring one bit about the environment or sustainability.

    If it helps to know I'm in Oregon.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011

  2. srdavo

    srdavo Active Member

    Push trailers have to be the Grayest of the Gray areas here in the USA.
    I doubt you'll find any Laws on the books.

    As for sidewalks.... IMO, No motorized vehicles should be allowed. Bicycles should not be allowed either.

    Bike trails & paths should be okay, unless otherwise posted.

    Bike-lanes should be okay for motor assisted bicycles.

    I believe the engine limit in Oregon is 35cc.

    In the end..... courtesy & common sense on the road will go a long way.
  3. nwohater

    nwohater New Member

    Thanks for the reply.

    I get your point, and do ride safe and courteous that's the whole dilema. I'm slow so it's not safe in bike lanes, it's dangerous to ride as slow as I usually do in the bike lanes on roads around here, it's too close to fast cars and really feels like risking my life for no good reason.

    And I'm in the burbs, there's really nobody even on the sidewalks anyway. Go for miles and you may see a couple people on the sidewalks total, other than that it's deserted. Unpowered bikes are legal on the sidewalk and they can go way faster than me, old persons powered mobility scooter, powered wheelchairs, why not my bike?

    I think it's really short sighted to make some of these laws... They force me under 20mph even if i have a motor that would make it safer to travel with traffic speed, and force me to be right next to speeding cars. It would actually be safer to break the bicycle speed limit to stay with traffic, if that were an option I wouldn't be so worried about being mowed down. Many bicycle deaths happen on these roads and I think it's safe to say it's not always the bicycles doing anything wrong.

    I get it, it designed to make things safe and nice in the busier areas, but it doesn't always make for the safest choices everywhere. Around here it's almost suicidal with a bike lane smack next to 45mph roads with just a paint stripe to protect you. Paint stripes don't do a very good job at stopping cars from crossing them. Plus 45mph limit means most of the traffic is 50mph or more pretty often, you get the idea...50mph vs 20mph with 4" buffer zone of air.

    That's why I'd rather just have a curb to protect me and more room from traffic, but the way it seems our police are just handing out tickets as fast as they can to meet their quota and budgetary needs it's incredibly frustrating. I absolutely can't afford a huge ticket any more than I can afford being a speedbump or a statistic, so was hoping maybe a powered trailer may make it harder to actually convict me should I run across officer quota on my travels. If I could find slower roads to travel on I always do, but in many places there's no way to avoid them as other slower roads don't go through. Seems there's a culdesac or dead end or whatever on slower roads half the time making traveling slow roads often impossible. I think they do that on purpose actually to keep thru traffic out of the neighborhoods, which makes sense, except for bicycle travel.

    Feels like being stuck between a rock and a hard place...
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2011
  4. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    The only way to answer the question is to review the laws of your state.

    I don't think that the "detached" trailer pusher concept will really be a good defense against your prosecution. Best to know the law and formulate your understanding thru a series of questions.

    The reason you want your analysis whittled down to some questions is that if you get stopped by a police officer, and you start blowing your position, saying, "this law states a,b,c"... then the officer will likely want to show you that "the law also states x,y,z" and will want a judge to determine who's right after you're inconvenienced a number of times enough to even be able to present your case to that judge.

    Pay attention to what comes out of officers mouths. It's usually never a demand, or a scold, or anything of the sort; it's usually a simple statement or question -- "Wow. Look at that." "Did you build it yourself?" "How fast does it go?"

    If a cop says, "license, registration, and insurance", then ask, "Are you willing to claim, under full commercial liability, that i am obligated to have such things?"

    COP: How fast does it go?
    YOU: Was I speeding?
    COP: No, but I'm just curious.
    YOU: Well, I'm also curious if there are any special laws you know about me assembling my own mode of locomotion to enjoy the public right of ways that all people benefit from. You wouldn't be attempting to trick me into incriminating myself, would you?

    Always ask questions.

    Do your due diligence and print the laws out after analysis.
  5. MikeJ

    MikeJ Member

    Hi Nwohater -

    My opinion is your questions have never been considered by lawmakers. In your behalf and safety, given what I read above about your riding area, I commend you for riding under the speed limit at all times (it sounds like you do). I also recommend you get yourself a white motorcycle helmet and a bright yellow riding jacket. I wear both with full intention of standing out to cagers and law enforcement alike, like a sore, sore thumb. Make the cagers see you! They will then make effort to avoid you. In turn, you must constantly scan the horizon for that one idiot on wheels and know what is around you at all times. That means using a rear-view mirror. I'm sure you know how the streets change on second-by-second basis.

    I have been passed by many law officers of all kinds and I know they see me. I have carried on conversations with half a dozen of them while on my bike and in my riding gear at different times. And yes, my bike is technically illegal for over-limit cc displacement. I have never been questioned about that.

    I ride the least busy streets. Slow cagers will move away from me as they pass. Fast cagers are exceeding posted speed limits. I have little worry about being hit.

    I will never understand the rationale of riders of any two-wheeler why they don't wear helmets and wear black tee-shirts in traffic. And now I see more frequently young women on 50 cc scooters limited to 30 mph with no helmet and short-sleeve shirts in the high-speed lanes. Legal or otherwise, that is just plain dumb, dumb, dumb.

    I wish you many hours of fun and economical riding!
  6. IbedaYank

    IbedaYank Member

    hey now i wear black Tshirts when i ride....
    over that is a neon green safety vest and i use a DOT motorcycle helmet tho...
    yep i wear a brain bucket...better to wear one you put on then to have your brain swept up and put in a rubbermaid brain bucket....
  7. loquin

    loquin Active Member

    Back to the original question...

    I believe the position of the police/prosecutors would be that, once you attach the motor to the bike in any way, including attaching it via the use of a trailer, you would have a motorized bike (and if there is no state law defining motorized bikes, or if your motor exceeds size/HP limits, then they would consider you to have a motorcycle...)

    The only way you <<<might>>> get around this issue, would be to mount a motor-generator on a trailer, and use the MG set to continuously recharge the battery on an E-Bike. By turning off the generator, and e-biking away (using the battery,) you could demonstrate that the purpose of the generator is to recharge the battery, and not for primary power...
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2011
  8. for the price of that contraption you could buy a scooter and ride it for about ten years . Legaly :smile:
  9. CroMagnum

    CroMagnum Member

    The more I see of pusher trailers, the more I want to build one. I've got a new $800 Diamondback that I'd really like to motorize, but there's no way I'm bolting an HT engine to that oval-cross-section thin wall aluminum frame and screwing up the rear wheel with a clunky sprocket mount. But clamping a simple trailer hitch to the seat post looks pretty non-destructive.

    In California you register your motorized bicycle with the DMV and get a special little plate, kind of like a moped. If I ever build a pusher, I'm probably going to register the trailer, not the bike, and mount the plate back with the engine. I mean, that's the "motorized" part.

    I'll have full legal paperwork to show the cops. And I could easily swap the trailer between bikes and not worry about multiple registrations. Plus, if I remove the trailer, all I have is just a plain, old bike again.

    Any other Californians think this will fly?
  10. Big Red

    Big Red Active Member

    Ca. law

    Yes, Once you detatch the trailer it's just a bicycle, Not a Motorized.
    And nwohater, I've alway's thought perhaps, If you can get a disabled placard, Put together a electric bike and call it an assisted mobility device. With no pedals, in California, you would be limited to 20mph. With pedals it is 30mph. (Thats how the law reads.) A mobility device is allowed up to FOUR wheels on the ground, not including stablizing wheels. There are MILLIONS of three and four wheeled mobility devices in this country. I have'nt yet seen a law against a two wheeled mobility device. If you REALLY have a bad back it should be no problem getting a disabled placard. Then hang the placard on the bike, ride it safe and see what happens. So, What does everyone think about this? Will it fly?
    Big Red.
    P.S. and something else. A mobility device needs no registration, or M-2 license.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011
  11. Big Red

    Big Red Active Member

    Mobility device

    Just looked it up at the DMV website.( VC sec. 313) dimensions must be,20" wide and 25" deep and able to turn in place. 12mph limit.
    But this is all B...S... I've seen them more then 25" deep. The handle bars are taller than that. Perhaps they mean 25" from the seat. That would be do"able. As far as turning in place, Most of my bikes can do that if I keep the tank out of the way. I've also seen motorized chairs doing a LOT more then the 12mph limit. So, Make the seat no taller than 25" high. No more than 25" wide, (no wide ape hangers) and make sure it has a GREAT turning ability. And keep the speed to around 15mph and I really think it could work.
    Good Luck,
    Big Red.
    P.S. Just looked closer at sec 313. Has to be self balancing. SO BUILD A TRIKE.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011
  12. Big Red

    Big Red Active Member


    Hey CroMagnum, Would it be possible to photocopy your paperwork, Covering up your name and address of course, and post a pic of it. I'm getting ready to get all legal myself (It hurts, It hurts,) and I've heard some real horror stories about DMV. If I could go in armed with a "sample" it would show them that it has been done and they, as required by law, should also register my bike.
    Thanks in advance,
    Big Red.
  13. CroMagnum

    CroMagnum Member

    I don't have anything yet. I mailed in the Reg230 form a on Diamondback mountain bike a few weeks ago and haven't gotten anything back yet. It'll probably be at least another month. I'm planning on dropping an 80cc HT motor in it.

    I just used the bike serial as the VIN and found a number on the motor. We'll see if it works. I saw so many messages posted that warned against trying to talk personally with the local DMV drones that I opted to take the safe route and mail it in.
  14. Big Red

    Big Red Active Member


    That just might be the better way. Let us know how it works out for you.
    Big Red.
  15. ZnsaneRyder

    ZnsaneRyder Member

    Regardless of what the laws are, you run into an idiot cop, and not a good one that actually does his job, you will just end up being arrested anyway and the cop will spew BS to try to validate his case (only allowed 10mph, or whatever nonsense he invents from the top of his head) - which of course when you go to court, charges will just be dropped, and you will lose your bike in impound, and they will never reprimand the officer or compensate you for your losses. EVEN IF (in my case) you ALREADY HAVE a Valid Driver's License, and you went to court before and had charges dropped, and tell next officer you already went to court, you will get arrested anyway.

    Get a TAG, regardless of configuration of bike.

    Don't risk it, there's too many idiots out there.





    Last edited: Sep 25, 2011
  16. sparky

    sparky Active Member


    I would recommend NOT speaking to an officer. You have that right. I have tried speaking to an officer before, only TRYING to explain to him that I did my best to look for the law.

    COPS DON'T WANT TO HEAR THE LAW. They want to "Be Superior" and intimidate you. That's it.

    Let them say whatever it is they have to say. If you have evidence of the law, then SHOW it to him, but don't explain it to him. Remember... he doesn't want to hear it.

    Also... I would think twice about whether or not I "offer" a legal name to an officer, much less a state-issued ID/DL. No man is obligated to do anything for another man.... UNTIL HE CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGES. What is happening at the side of the road is that the cop is OFFERING to write you a ticket when you provide him your name, rank, and file... and you are ACCEPTING that offer by following thru with your end.

    A much better solution would be to just shut up. Only about half of the states require you to identify yourself to a cop, but to be on the safe side... I would think it'd be smart to offer up a name anyway, just not a LEGAL name. My name is "Znsane". If the cop is acting lawfully, he needs no more information. If he is acting legally, then you don't even need to tell him your name is "Znsane". Even better... follow my advice above. Always answer questions with questions. "What is your name?" "Are you acting legally or lawfully?"

    Just do NOT tell him that your name is "Znsane Ryder, with SSN 333-22-1111, address at 44 crazy street, DOB of 05/05/1955, shoe size 12 1/2, etc.!!!!

    Ask if you're obligated to have a name, a SSN, an address, a DOB (which is hearsay, anyway, because you weren't conscious at the time of your birth), etc.

    If a cop says, "Take off your pants, Mr. Peckerhead. Let me get a look at your Willie." You are free to do as he says, but you are under no obligation to do as he says, either. Remember that.

    My license expired earlier this year and I have absolutely no intention of renewing it.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  17. Big Red

    Big Red Active Member


    You guys must have it real rough in Florida and Mississippi. I've been pulled over a few times, asked for my ID, then we start talking about my bike. The Pull Over was a ploy to get a closer look at my bike. Most cops around here,(not all,) are polite and respectful. I've had my share of A Hole cops, and if you got no wants or warrents there's not much they can do, unless you start being a smart A**, like giving them a false name. If the cop starts REALLY giving you carp, Ask for his superviser. By law one has to come to settle any disputes. I've done this before and the cop "all of a sudden" starts acting professional again.
    It might be altogether different in Florida and OLE MISS. That is the DEEP south. If it is that bad I feel sorry for you guys and wish you the best of luck.
    Big Red.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  18. sjn

    sjn New Member

    The cops around here have been totally cool about my pusher. I hope it stays that way after I finish swapping out that pathetic chinese 50 cc for a 305 cc 8 hp briggs! Crossing fingers now.