When is a bicycle not a bicycle?

| 12/03/2018

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian statusDo you have any idea if these ‘ordinary looking’ bicycles which appear to be equipped with motors are required to have vehicle licences and do their riders require drivers’ licences? The reason I ask is because it is now a fairly regular sight to see these things “shooting” down the road and some are even driven by kids in school uniform, so I doubt that they’re even old enough to possess a driver’s licence of any sort. At the end of the day, I would think that any type of motorised contraption would be classed as a motor vehicle and since some are even weaving in and out of traffic, I would have thought that some kind of official competence level should be required in order to operate one.

They are far less noisy than regular motorbikes/scooters so I would be terrified of one flying up between my vehicle and the vehicle in the next lane if either one of us had to manoeuvre quickly to avoid a pothole or something. Whilst one should be checking their rearview mirror on a frequent basis, at least regular motorbikes make enough noise that you are more or less forced to check your mirror at that precise moment.

Auntie’s answer: First of all, under Section 2 of The Traffic Law, a pedal cycle is defined as a wheeled vehicle which is propelled by human power and can include pedals that are electrically assisted, but the electric motor is “incapable of solely propelling the cycle”.

That last part of the definition is the most important when it comes to categorising the bikes you have seen on the road.

And that leads to the licensing part of the question, for which I was advised by a Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing official. It is actually very straightforward. If the mechanics are such that the motor simply assists with the propelling then it is considered a bicycle. But if the motor alone can propel the bike without needing to pedal, then the vehicle is considered a motorbike.

From the description you provide and what I have also witnessed, I feel secure in calling those two-wheeled things motorbikes. What that means is both the bike and the person riding it need to be licensed.

The idea of school kids who are too young to get a licence, darting through traffic on these “motorised contraptions”, is distressing at best and horrifying at worst. The term “an accident waiting to happen” seems unfortunately all too appropriate.

The law mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library

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Category: Ask Auntie, Traffic Questions, Transportation Questions, Vehicle Licensing Questions

Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    so 1 person in th uk died on a an ebike…..how many people die on normal bikes????
    lets ban all bikes…????…….zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  2. Yellowman says:

    Cayman…where greed is king…Stop ripping the people off with high prices and they will comply…Ever heard the saying , a hunger man will eat you!

  3. Anonymous says:

    If they stay on the side of the road, its find by me. But if they are going to ride closer to the middle of the road, sorry for them, They going to have a major accident, its only a matter of time.

  4. Anonymous says:

    People should really not get so up tight about pedal assist bicycles. The US has already passed laws on these gas saving earth friendly human powered machines. They are limited to a speed to which you can pedal easily (15-20 mph) so no one is travelling at break neck speed. What should be law is the wearing of bicycle helmets, but it isn’t.

    It would be great to see the RCIPs use electric bicycles too, you are positioned well to see all the vehicle drivers on their cell phones

    I say e-bikes should be encouraged and laws passed to mandate the wearing of helmets.

    Electric pedal assist bicycles get people out and about and exercising.

    Imagine how much traffic congestion would be eased if just 20% of the population commuted to work on a bicycle. E-bikes can make this easily achieveable.

    • Anonymous says:

      7.20 – Not so much ‘uptight’, more ‘concerned’. I agree with 95+ % of your ideas but the main point is concern for schoolchildren (whether on regular or ‘pedal assist bicycles’) weaving in and out of traffic.
      I’m all for ‘earth friendly’ machines for responsible adults and the ease of traffic congestion suggestion is a great idea ! … but let’s not mistake concern for our schoolkids as being ‘uptight’.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Seems to me it isn’t “actually very straightforward”.
    Many electric bicycles are pedal assist types that also have a throttle that allows motor only operation. Many of those bicycles also have a simple disconnect of the “motor only” function in order to comply with jurisdictions that only allow pedal assist. So where exactly does the department of vehicles stand on those types of bicycles? Are they a bicycle or a motorbike?

  6. Anonymous says:

    11.46 is SO Obviously one of those Kids riding these ‘bikes’ – I wouldn’t even waste my time engaging them in this discussion.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’ve given up complaining to police over these daredevils on motorbikes in the Mt. Pleasant and Birch Tree Hill areas. I guess the only recourse is a “brake check” when these denizens of the road come roaring up behind you,+ on one wheel usually. Police will then be forced to act in the aftermath.

    Sad to have to see a tragic accident to bring this matter to a head. Two of these miscreants live on my street (a dead end) and could be easily captured while tearing up and down that street practicing one-wheel control!

  8. West bay Premier says:

    What read from the Traffic Department sounds like kindergarten Law . But I would think that when it’s powered by a engine it should be classified as a motorcycle and all requirements would need to be met to operate it as a motorcycle.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Step back, deep breath. Move on. Let’s worry about the rapists, criminals and corruption.
    After we have arrested these SOBs, we will move on to these terrorists on battery-powered bicycles.
    Good God, people, get an effin life!

    • Anonymous says:

      Obviously, you have no consideration for the lives of our youth ! As Auntie said, “an accident waiting to happen” – You obviously do not have kids …. YOU get a life ! What a Selfish point of view ! Shame on you.

    • Anonymous says:

      For you to dismiss this so easily…you are sounding like one of those SOBs

  10. Anonymous says:

    Linford Pierson Highway is famous for these schoolkids on these ‘bikes’

    • Anonymous says:

      LPH is also famous for speeding drivers

      • Anonymous says:

        Excellent point 7.22 ! and this makes for even more of a compelling argument i.e. for us to be especially concerned about these youths on ‘bikes’ (whatever kind of ‘bikes’ they may be)..

      • Anonymous says:

        On the other hand folks…. ‘Speeding Drivers’ are rarely seen during morning rush hour, when these schoolkid ‘cyclists’ are most prevalent…. (although I have seen a few speedster cars overtaking a whole line of traffic-jammed vehicles which even adds to the danger….) …..that being said – I cannot speak to ‘after rush hour’ activity of the ‘cyclists’ on LPH or elsewhere. Whatever… I agree ‘concern’ is the watchword for all.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Ok RCIPS, do your job in the Mt. Pleasant Rd. area of West Bay. They be “flying”with no lights on at night also.