I don’t like to think of myself as a quitter. Usually I chip away at something until I finish what I am trying to do unless I find the obstacle is truly too large for my skills. This time however, I find that a year after I started this blog, that I gave up on the Aptera project too soon because I believed that the bureaucracy that exists in government was too large to overcome.

It was about this time last year I became discouraged by an article that appeared in autobloggreen.com. It was brief and to the point. The headline read, “Ohio refuses to license electric 3 wheeled vehicles.” For me that said it all. I was done. I didn’t have the time or resources to fight this battle. I felt that I would get nothing but frustration from the effort when I read the reason behind Ohio’s refusal:

Most states classify three-wheelers as motorcycles, but Ohio adds one more item to their definition of a motorcycle: a saddle. This means that three-wheelers which have a normal “car-like” seat are unregisterable as a car, because they have fewer than four wheels, or a motorcycle. -Source Cleveland Plain Dealer_via, autobbloggreen.com.

The law is an ass! – From Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

Well, I suppose that even an ass can change its stripes… ass? stripes? Never mind the metaphor. Because just like the distance runner that gave up the race just a few feet away from the finish line, I missed the victory. One month later this article appeared at www.wsaz.com with the headline, “3-Wheel car approved in Ohio.” I was elated until I found the law in its new form. Here it is from its source:







House Bill 562 made a change in the definition of “Motorcycle”. ORC 4511.01 ( C )    “Motorcycle” means every motor vehicle, other than a tractor, having a SEAT or saddle for the use of the operator and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, including, but not limited to, motor vehicles known as “motor-driven cycle,” “motor scooter,” or “motorcycle” without regard to weight or brake horsepower.

An increasing number of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers are designing a wide variety of vehicles that have three wheels, a bench or bucket seat, a steering wheel, and are enclosed. Some of the new vehicles are gasoline powered and some are electric.  Most of these three-wheel vehicles meet the federal definition of a motorcycle and the federal safety standards. Until now, due to the bench seat, we had not considered titling them or registering them as Motorcycles.

The Title office shall begin on September 23, 2008 to title any three-wheel motor vehicles that meet the federal and the Ohio House Bill 562 definitions, for “motorcycle when presented with proper evidence.

The operators of these vehicles must comply with Ohio’s motor vehicle Laws, including our helmet law. The driver must be properly licensed to operate the vehicle and have a motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement on their valid operator’s license, and they must meet Ohio’s financial responsibility laws.

If you have any questions, please contact the Helpdesk and select 3 for Deputy Registrar And Title Support Services, DTS-Title Unit.

Thank you.

Did you catch the part about helmet laws? Here is what the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles has to say about helmets:

No person who is under the age of 18 years, or who holds a motorcycle operator’s endorsement or license bearing a “novice,” shall operate a motorcycle on a high-way, or be a passenger on a motorcycle, unless wearing a protective helmet on his or her head, and no other person shall be a passenger on a motorcycle operated by such a person unless similarly wearing a protective helmet. Source- http://www.bmv.ohio.gov/misc/traffic_rules.htm

I was stumped by the whole idea that you had to wear a helmet and have a motorcycle license to drive an enclosed vehicle until I realized that this was a way of rewriting the law without actually creating a new law for a new vehicle type. They have to keep the seemingly strange rules on the books for other 3 wheeled vehicles like ATVs and custom “trikes”; those three wheeled choppers that seem to be popular with the senior citizen motor cycle gang members. I have a feeling though that most officers of the law are going to have common sense enough to understand the “spirit” of the law and not enforce the letter of the law. However, I will have a helmet behind the seat just in case. I think this may be a good excuse to look really scary in a very alien car. Yes! that’s it! I now have a reason to buy that helmet I wanted to get.