Another Arizona City Looking at Scooter Ban

Ordinance would be aimed primarily at 'pocket bikes' - miniature motorcycles - but may also apply to electric models.

Published: 07-Jan-2005

Phoenix's recent ban on motorized scooters is fueling a Chandler activist's efforts to make another push for tougher regulations. Now, city officials say, they're ready to listen.

Greg Dutton, 40, said he has been complaining about the devices' noise and danger for five years and will ask the City Council on Thursday to consider a Phoenix-type ban or to require that operators be at least 16 and have a driver's license. He'll be carrying petitions with about 200 signatures.

Last month, the Phoenix City Council passed a law that bans motorized play vehicles from all public property, including city streets, alleys, parks and sidewalks.

An incident in Dutton's west Chandler neighborhood three days before Christmas brought the issue home, he said. He witnessed a motorized play vehicle accident in his Twelve Oaks neighborhood, then waited with the seriously injured teenage victim, who was not wearing a helmet, until a medical helicopter arrived. "I'm a bit angry at having to deal with this. I've been saying for five years that they (motorized play vehicles) are a safety issue and a quality-of-life issue," Dutton said.

Phoenix police Officer Terry Sills said he has been contacted by nearly every Valley city since the new regulations began. He calls the vehicles a "nationwide safety problem."

Chandler Councilman Bob Caccamo, a former high school principal, said motorized scooters are banned on local campuses and aren't used for transportation.

"I'm still looking at the pros and cons, but at this point, I haven't found much to support them," he said. "I don't see them being used as transportation; all I'm seeing is the toy part of them, and there's more pressure on us to do something about it."

Caccamo, Vice Mayor Phill Westbrooks and Mayor Boyd Dunn said they will ask for more information and staff recommendations, but are open to considering city law changes.

Police spokesman Detective Robert Krautheim said Chandler's laws governing motorized play vehicles are 7 years old, and newer models and styles present officers with increasing challenges.

"Pocket bikes," or miniature motorcycles, weren't around then. They aren't legal on any streets or sidewalks in Arizona, but police are seeing them more often and ticketing drivers, Krautheim said. Citations carry $75 fines for each offense, and pocket-bike drivers are often cited for several violations, Krautheim said.

Motorized scooter drivers who disobey city laws are also ticketed, he said.

Chandler requires motorized scooter operators to be at least 13, obey traffic rules and keep the vehicles off sidewalks and major thoroughfares. Operators 17 or younger must wear a helmet, passengers are prohibited, and vehicles must not be modified to make them faster or louder.

After Dutton and his neighbors complained last year about violations in their subdivision and submitted petitions to the city, Police Chief Sherry Kiyler sent out information letters to more than 800 residents and followed with stepped-up enforcement. Dutton said the campaign worked for months.

"I intend to praise the Police Department publicly for this," he said.

This week, the city is rebroadcasting a program created last year on city motorized vehicle laws and rider responsibilities. The show will air on Cable Channel 11 at 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. today.

Dutton said he is encouraging his neighbors to call police when they see a violation, but he knows law enforcement isn't the only solution.

"Police are not a substitute for proper parenting," he said.

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