Area police take notice of scooters
A new craze is revving up in the Fargo-Moorhead area and police on both sides of the Red River are taking notice. Last spring, motorized skateboards and scooters began popping up on streets and sidewalks. The devices, normally human-powered, zoom...
A new craze is revving up in the Fargo-Moorhead area and police on both sides of the Red River are taking notice.
Last spring, motorized skateboards and scooters began popping up on streets and sidewalks.
The devices, normally human-powered, zoomed around propelled by small motors, some electric, others gasoline fueled.
Area retailers say the machines have been flying out the door, with demand dimming only after the weather turned colder.
The Fargo and Moorhead police departments, however, are voicing worries.
Many of the contraptions, sometimes called "go-peds," lack the power, lights and turn signals required to be legally road worthy.
In addition, all motorized vehicles are banned by ordinance from Fargo and Moorhead sidewalks and bike paths.
Because of the growing popularity of go-peds, Moorhead police are planning a crackdown on those who ride them on sidewalks and streets.
Officers will start with warnings but citations will be written to repeat offenders, Moorhead police Sgt. Dan Griffin said.
Fargo, too, is paying closer attention to go-peds.
Police officials and Fargo's city attorney are crafting an ordinance that would loosen restrictions on where and how go-peds can operate, police Lt. Tod Dahle said.
Cities with ordinances covering such devices typically impose things like helmet requirements and a minimum age for operators, he said.
In Fargo, the fine for riding a motorized vehicle on a bike trail is $120.
The fine for riding a go-ped on the street or sidewalk is $60 but Dahle said Fargo officers haven't been doing a lot of enforcement in that area.
Moorhead officers haven't been writing tickets, either. But that may soon change.
When the weather turns nice again and go-ped riders are once more out and about, officers will start issuing warnings to those who drive on streets or sidewalks, Griffin said.
Subsequent violations will result in tickets.
If kids are found riding where they're not allowed, parents will be informed, Griffin said.
The minimum fine for riding a go-ped on a sidewalk or street in Moorhead is $150.
Concern is safety
Griffin said his main worry is safety. He said some gasoline-powered scooters can run 18 to 20 mph.
"I don't think they're very safe," Griffin said. "When you see people riding them, you don't see helmets. You don't see elbow pads."
He added, however, he's heard of no serious injuries being reported locally.
Griffin said parents considering buying go-peds as Christmas gifts should keep in mind the only legal place to drive one in Moorhead is on private property.
Motorized gizmos showing up around town range from skateboards to scooters with seats, lights and horns, Griffin said.
"One officer said he saw a motor attached to a 10-speed," he added.
Scooter safety hasn't been a worry for the Jeff and Kaley Mari family of Fargo, which has had a gasoline-powered scooter for about two months.
Kaley Mari says her daughters, ages 9 and 13, are the primary users.
"It's so much like a bike. It doesn't go that fast," Mari said.
"Actually," she added, "the kids are better at wearing their helmets on that thing than they are with their bikes."
Bargains Galore in Dilworth has been marketing an electric scooter since last spring.
"They sell like crazy," store manager Patrick Tyk said.
Tyk declined to say how many of the $200 scooters they've sold but he said they're very popular, particularly with campers.
"We haven't had a customer return one," Tyk said.
Jerry Monroe, manager of the Checker Auto Parts store in Moorhead, said when the business began selling scooters last summer "you couldn't keep 'em inside the building."
The store sells electric and gasoline models ranging in price from $109 to $269.
Many customers are grandparents buying gifts for grandchildren, Monroe said.
Sales of motorized scooters have also been good at the Flying J Travel Plaza in Fargo, where travelers of all kinds have been snatching them up, manager Bill Walker said.
"I've sold them to everybody," Walker said, referring to the gas-powered scooters that range in price from $250 to $300.
Walker said one problem came to light after he began selling the machines: Canada does not allow them.
"There's a few of them sitting at the border," Walker said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555