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Ordinance would move pocket bikes off streets

Parents would be responsible for children's violations

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LAKE SAINT LOUIS - The days of the pocket bike may be coming to an end.

Much like neighboring communities, Lake Saint Louis city officials are moving forward with an ordinance that would regulate the use of the motorized play vehicles better known as pocket bikes on private and public streets.

A draft of the proposed set of standards presented at the Board of Aldermen work session Monday defines a "motorized play vehicle" as any device with two or more wheels other than a motorcycle, motorized bicycle or motor vehicle that is self-powered by an internal combustion engine/motor.

A license is not currently required to operate these vehicles. As a result, riders of the bikes are often not old enough to carry a driver's license, even though some models can reach speeds up to 50 mph.

Lake Saint Louis Police Chief Michael Force said problems with the mini motorbikes began to surface some time ago. The bikes' scaled-down size causes them to sit low to the ground. Drivers of trucks and sport utility vehicles would have a hard time seeing pocket bikes on the road. This lack of fair vision as well as the pocket bikes' high speed and design places riders in danger, Force said.

The bikes' relatively inexpensive price and the increase in their popularity have raised officials' concerns, prompting city officials to accelerate efforts toward amending the traffic code.

The new ordinance would prohibit the use of such vehicles on streets, sidewalks and other public areas.

In addition, parents, guardians and legal custodians would be held accountable for their children's actions regarding any violation of the new law. Failure to prevent minors from using the bikes would result in joint liability and payment of a fine, despite any knowledge or anticipation of the event.

Although questions were raised as to whether the draft of the ordinance should include other popular motorized toys, such as skateboards and scooters, Force said problems with the similar toys could be addressed in the future.

Jami Cale can be contacted at jcale@yourjournal.com

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