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Friday, July 19, 2024

Legislation Moves to Address Safety Issues Around Mopeds

Residents throughout the District have seen a rapid increase in the number of mopeds. A WUSA investigation found that registrations were up last year to 143 from only 54 registered mopeds in 2022. 85 new mopeds have been registered so far in 2024. That investigation found many drivers are new immigrants who use the vehicles as cheap transportation for employment in food delivery. You can order a moped from Amazon for about $600.

According to the DMV, a motor-driven cycle, sometimes referred to as a moped or motorized scooter, is a two-or three-wheeled vehicle with a 50 cc engine or smaller. It should not exceed a travel speed of 30 mph. In DC, you must have a driver’s license, registration and insurance to legally operate one. They can use sidewalks or bicycle racks for parking, but should not travel on sidewalks or in bicycle lanes.

But some say that moped use presents both opportunity and challenge. On social media, residents have cited unsafe road use as operators weave between vehicles and in and out of the bike lanes.

While mopeds are better for the environment and for traffic safety than cars, some say without proper oversight, drivers are flouting rules and could be creating dangerous situations without accountability. There could be many more out there than on record with the DMV.

But despite the increase in mopeds on the streets, Axios reported that according to the DMV mopeds account for only .19 percent of annual District accidents, while cars account for 58 percent.

Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D), introduced legislation Monday to address the proliferation of mopeds in the District by making sellers and renters of mopeds responsible for registration requirements, similar to the experience of buying or renting a car.

Under Nadeau’s bill, companies that sell or rent mopeds would be required to provide written notice of a vehicle’s classification and registration requirements to consumers before selling or renting a vehicle. That is not currently a requirement for rental companies. It would also forbid the practice of mislabeling vehicles at point-of-sale for the purposes of circumventing legal requirements.

“We are working to bring some order to the moped food delivery industry and hold sellers, renters and operators of mopeds accountable,” Nadeau said.

Nadeau is also working to expand oversight by the Department of For-Hire Vehicles to include enforcement of food delivery services, which may be a first for any city in the US. The agency is under the oversight of the Committee on Public Works and Operations, which Nadeau chairs.

Moped Jacking

Mopeds are both easy targets for crime and easy to use in committing one. The nature of mopeds makes them easier to steal, with riders vulnerable to threats as they are exposed. With no doors and reduced exit and entry times, mopeds are also easier to use in crime than a car.

On Monday, DC Housing Authority Police helped Metropolitan Police (MPD) capture four teenagers accused in three armed carjackings. In all three, police say the teens used a  handgun –or the threat of one –to get the owners to comply. Mopeds were used in at least two of the carjackings.

The crime that led to their capture happened around 1 p.m. Monday, April 29. Two suspects went up to the rider of a moped as he sat on the vehicle at Ninth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE. One suspect acted as though he had a gun; it was enough to make the man get off his moped.

But as the suspects were getting on the moped, the victim flagged down a DC Housing Authority Officer.

The suspects were apprehended by canvassing officers and with the assistance of an MPD helicopter.

It was the second armed moped-jacking within an hour. Earlier the same day, Monday, April 29, at 12:15 p.m., three suspects approached another man as he was sitting on his moped at 13th and H Streets NE. They pulled up beside him on two mopeds of their own. This time, one suspect had a handgun and two additional suspects pulled the victim from his vehicle.

A 16-year-old juvenile male, of Southeast, a 16-year-old juvenile male of Southwest, DC and an 18-year-old of no fixed address were arrested and charged with carjacking in these two cases.

The third moped-jacking happened the previous day, on Sunday, April 28, around 5:45 p.m. Two suspects approached the user of a blue moped as the owner sat on it at 11th and O Streets SE. One suspects waved a handgun and demanded the victim’s property and the moped. The victim complied. A blue moped was later used in the H Street carjacking.

A 15-year-old juvenile male, of Temple Hills, MD, was arrested and charged with three counts of armed carjacking, including the above two cases and the third that took place Sunday. The mopeds have been recovered.

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