Amsterdam: Minicars or Maxicycles?

12 Sep

The cars on the sidewalk are much smaller than they appear. Smaller than SMART cars, they’re legally not even cars, they’re light engine-powered quadricycles. They’re classified as four-wheeled mopeds and because they’re regulated to speeds less than 40 kph (25 mph), they don’t require a drivers license.

Who drives these things? According to their manufacturers, 65% are people over 50, mostly men living in rural areas or remote suburbs and who for various reasons don’t want to drive standard cars anymore. Another 30% are workers between 25 and 50 and don’t have the time or resources to take the driving test. Apparently in some countries the wait can be between 1 to 3 years to take a driving test. So no more complaining about the inefficiencies at the California DMV for me.

But the perception among my French colleagues is that because these minicars don’t require a license, many of the drivers are people who got caught driving drunk. The industry doesn’t agree, saying that only 3% of the drivers have been fined for minor (albeit multiple) traffic violations, not DUI or excessive speed violations. But then again, without a license requirement would the police even care?

Do you think minicars aka quadricycles should require drivers licenses? If so, what about bicycles? Where do you draw the line?

(See I told you they were small)

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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Issues & Infrastructure, Travel


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