Massachusetts Lawmakers Weigh New Regulations for Autocycles

November 29, 2021

Proposed regulations of autocycles will be on the schedule when Massachusetts state lawmakers hold a virtual public hearing Tuesday.

An autocycle is a three-wheeled motor vehicle that meets federal safety standards for a motorcycle. Unlike motorcycles, however, autocycles typically include a steering wheel, a seat for the driver and occasionally seats for passengers. The driver and passengers are not required to straddle the vehicle like a motorcycle.

One of the bills under consideration would create new safety measures for autocycles including requiring the driver and passengers to wear helmets, requiring autocycle manufacturers to equip the vehicles with safety belts which must be worn by drivers and passengers, and barring children under eight from riding in an autocycle.

Anyone who operates an autocycle without wearing a safety helmet or safety belts would face a fine of no less than $25 under the bill.

The legislation would also require that autocycles be considered motorcycles for purposes of inspections, but operators would have to have a license to operate a motor vehicle. An autocycle could not be operated by a person holding only a motorcycle license.

More than 30 states already have autocycle statutory definitions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nineteen states require autocycles to have seatbelts, 10 states require the vehicle to have a roll cage or roll bar, and four states require autocycles to have airbags.

The virtual public hearing by the Joint Committee on Transportation is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m.