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North Bend approves new scooter law

NORTH BEND - If you're going to ride a motorized scooter in North Bend, you need to be at least 16 years old and make sure your vehicle is equipped with a muffler.

Those are just a couple of the regulations approved by a 3-1 vote of the North Bend City Council at its Aug. 17 meeting.

According to the other stipulations of the new ordinance, scooter riders must:

* Keep off sidewalks and public trails in North Bend;

* Outfit their scooters with proper lighting during hours of darkness;

* Not exceed 25 miles per hour, unless the scooter is being operated in a bicycle lane;

* Wear a helmet; and

* Follow all vehicle traffic codes, except those that by definition cannot apply.

Offenders will be written a traffic citation and face a $30 fine.

According to North Bend Police Chief Sgt. Joe Hodgson of the King County Sheriff's Office North Bend Sub Station, complaints about the noise and recklessness of users regarding the popular device have been on the increase.

The new ordinance essentially will be a traffic infraction, Hodgson said, meaning a deputy will need to see the scooter rider violate the ordinance. Neighbors can call the station to report a violator, Hodgson said, but unlike other crimes, a report will not be taken.

As with any new law, work will be added to the daily schedule of officers, Hodgson said, but no enforcement issues are expected.

Several council members said they struggled with the age portion of the ordinance, stating that age 12 was likely a better fit for the city's youth who like to ride the scooters.

"This ordinance is focused on the wrong age group ... but I feel like something needs to happen," said Councilman David Cook.

Cook said there are many responsible riders and he trusts North Bend parents to regulate their kids, but regulations are needed to diminish this growing problem. Cook felt those who were 16 would likely be driving a car, and it was the younger age range that was the motorized scooter crowd.

Councilwoman Karen Tavenner, who voted against the ordinance, suggested that a provision be made that allowed those ages 12 to 15 to ride motorized scooters if they were in possession of a Washington identification card.

City Attorney Mike Kenyon said he did not think that would pose a legal problem.

Council members decided to approve the ordinance as it was presented, but said they would likely revisit the issue at a later date.

Councilman Bill Wittress was not able to attend the meeting so he did not vote.

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