Manufacturer appeals for autocycle license change

Boston Statehouse

(Massachusetts RMV)

BOSTON (SHNS) – Massachusetts is one of only two states where drivers must have a motorcycle license to operate a three-wheeled vehicle known as an autocycle, a disparity that a manufacturer cited on Tuesday while pushing for reforms to align the Bay State’s regulations with its neighbors.

Under existing state law, motorists who want to drive autocycles such as the Polaris Slingshot must acquire a Class M license. J.R. Burke, the company’s director of state government affairs, told the Transportation Committee that New York is the only other state with a similar licensing requirement for an autocycle. Burke urged lawmakers to advance legislation that would allow anyone possessing a Class D passenger vehicle license to operate an autocycle and create a new subcategory of state law outlining their registration, definition and safety requirements.

“Today, Massachusetts is nearly surrounded by other states who do not have that (license) requirement,” he said. “Individuals who may travel into Massachusetts in an autocycle as is defined and with operator licensing required in their state — they may not meet Massachusetts’ current licensing obligation of carrying a Class M license. They may do so inadvertently.”

Such changes feature in a Rep. William Driscoll bill (H 3445), which would declare an autocycle to be a three-wheeled vehicle that has a steering wheel and does not require a driver or passenger to straddle. “This is essentially a car, a four-wheeled car, except it has three wheels,” Driscoll said. “Right now, if you were to try and purchase one of these, you’d need to get a motorcycle driver’s license, and it just doesn’t really fit.” The Transportation Committee favorably reported a version of the bill last session, but it died without action in the House Ways and Means Committee. 

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