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Dolph Bryan

Office of the Attorney GeneralNovember 26, 2007

2007 WL 4415302 (Miss.A.G.)
Office of the Attorney General
State of Mississippi
*1 Opinion No. 2007-00602
*1 November 26, 2007

Re: Bicycles With Electric Motors

 
*1 Dolph Bryan
*1 Sheriff
*1 111 Dr. D. L. Conner Drive
*1 Starkville, MS 39759-2824
Dear Sheriff Bryan:
*1 Attorney General Jim Hood has received your request and has assigned it to me for research and reply. You pose two questions:
 
QUESTIONS
 
*1 1. Is it legal for an electric bicycle (a bicycle with peddles and an electric motor) to be ridden on the streets and highways in Mississippi?
*1 2. Would it also be legal for this bicycle to be ridden on designated bike lanes?
 
ANSWER
 
*1 It is legal for a bicycle with motor attached to be ridden on the streets and highways in Mississippi. The authority creating the bike lanes would have the discretion to determine whether a bicycle with motor attached could be ridden on the bike lane.
 
REASONING
 
*1 In order to answer your questions it must be determined whether a bicycle with a motor attached is a “motor vehicle” or retains its designation as a “bicycle”.
*1 Section 63-3-103 of the Mississippi Code provides: “Motor vehicle” means every vehicle which is self- propelled and every vehicle which is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails. The term“motor vehicle” shall not include electric personal assistive mobility devices.“
*1 Viewing this definition with other statutes relating to “bicycles” it appears that a bicycle with motor attached does not lose its identity as a bicycle and become a motor vehicle.
*1 Section 63-3-207of the Mississippi Code provides:
*1 Every person riding a bicycle or an animal or driving any animal drawing a vehicle upon a highway shall have all the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle under this chapter, except those provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application.
*1 Thus, an individual riding a bicycle on the highways has the same rights and duties as an individual operating a motor vehicle. A street or highway is defined in Section 63-3-125 of the Mississippi Code as ” the entire width between propertylines of every way or place of whatever nature when any part thereof is open to the use of the public, as a matter of right, for purposes of vehicular traffic.” Significantly, Section 63-7-51 of the Mississippi Code provides general vehicle brake requirements, differentiating between motor vehicles and bicycles with motor attached:
*1 (1) Every motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, when operated upon a highway shall be equipped with brakes adequate to control the movement of and to stop and hold such vehicle, including two separate means of applying the brakes, each of which means shall be effective to apply the brakes to at least two wheels. If these two separate means of applying the brakes are connected in any way, they shall be so constructed that failure of any one part of the operating mechanism shall not leavethe motor vehicle without brakes on at least two wheels.
*2 (2) Every motorcycle, and bicycle with motor attached, when operated upon a highway shall be equipped with at least one brake, which may be operated by hand or foot.
 
* * *
 
*2 It is the opinion of this office that Subsection (2) is determinative of the fact that a bicycle with motor attached retains its identification as a bicycle and does not, because of its motor, become a motor vehicle within the meaning of Section 63-3-103.
Sincerely,
*2 Jim Hood
*2 Attorney General
*2 By: James Y. Dale
*2 Special Assistant Attorney General
2007 WL 4415302 (Miss.A.G.)
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