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Mini Motorcycles Raise Safety Concerns

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The mini motorcycle, also called a pocket bike or super scooter, are the newest little things on the street, but police are raising concerns about the driver's safety.

If the engine is 50 cubic centimeters or less, and the top speed is 30 miles per hour or less, the law considers them a moped. So, if you are 16 years old and have a helmet, they are legal on most city streets, and you do not need a driver's license.

"Absolutely, it's dangerous and it could cause somebody to get hurt or possibly killed," said Maj. Dennis Lane, of the Raleigh Police Department.

Raleigh police officers said they have not worked a wreck involving the mini-cycles, but they are worried it will not be long.

"Motorists in a normal-size vehicle or an SUV sport utility will not be able to see them if they come up behind them or try to pass them or anything like that," Lane said.

One vendor on Capital Boulevard said he urges customers to stay off the big roads and he even throws in a free helmet with every purchase. Officials say you cannot drive them on the Beltline or the interstates.

In 1997, there were 12,000 scooters sold in the United States. In 2003, that number jumped to 84,000. Analysts predict more than 100,000 will be sold this year.


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