It does seem weird that a three-wheeled motorcycle would be classified as a motorcycle. After all, shouldn’t there be a different classification for vehicles that have three wheels compared to their two- and four-wheeled counterparts? Well, one US senator thinks it’s a great idea, which is why he has proposed a bill that would create an entirely new category in the US for three-wheeled enclosed vehicles, or autocycles as they’re more commonly referred to.

Senator David Vitter of Louisiana is the brains behind this legislation, dubbed the Autocycle Safety Act. If you’re wondering what the man’s credentials are, consider that he’s a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works – and its Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. That gives him cache on these issues and apparently, he wants this bill to create new federal regulations for these types of vehicles, including those set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s a logical argument given how some of these three-wheelers like Elio Motors’ Elio autocycle are being packaged as urban vehicles in their own right. That opens itself up to adhering to a set of regulations that really doesn’t fit in any existing category at the moment. Granted, 26 states already have laws or are developing them for autocycles.

But Vitter’s bill would ostensibly create that category encompassing the entire US, thus creating rules that apply only to these types of vehicles. What those rules are will be up for debate when legislators discuss the bill, but some, like wearing a helmet on open three-wheelers, seem like academic choices as a required law for these vehicles moving forward.

There will be a lot of debate on this bill moving forward. That much I’m sure of. But overall, Vitter’s proposal makes some sense on multiple levels.

Click "continue reading" to read more about what this proposed legislation could mean moving forward.

Why it matters

I’ve heard from some people that this proposed legislation is going to open up some confusion on what the description of a three-wheeled vehicle is and where certain models fit in the grand scheme of things. Take for example enclosed three-wheelers like the Toyota i-Road, the Campagna T-Rex, and the aforementioned Elio Motors Elio autocycle.

Technically, they have three wheels. But they’re also enclosed. So what does that make them? Would riders be required to wear a helmet when driving/riding any of them?
Here’s another question: how would you differentiate a three-wheeler with two wheels in the front and one in the back from a model that’s configured with one wheel in the front and two in the back? Technically, they both fit the mold because, well, they all have three wheels. But it’s been established that the two-in-the-front-and-one-in-the-back configuration is traditionally more stable than its counterpart. Would they be classified differently?

Like I said, it seems like a trivial legislation on the surface, but if you really think about it on a deeper level, you’ll see that there’s more to this proposed bill than meets the eye.
What I do know is that there’s a need for laws to be updated to keep up with the evolution of the automobile and motorcycle industries. Whether there becomes a three-wheeler industry might depend on how legislators approach Sen. Vitter’s proposal.

Source: Detroit Bureau

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