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City Council Studies Quadricycle ‘Loophole’

Public safety committee sets out to categorize Rhoades vehicles before (possibly) regulating them.

Is a “quadricycle” a bike or a vehicle?

That was the focus of discussion at Lakewood City Council’s public safety committee meeting on Monday night.

Judge Patrick Carroll has already ruled that Dominic Latessa’s four-wheeled, non-motorized “Rhoades Car” isn’t a toy.

It doesn’t fall under the classification of a horse-and-buggy or a tractor, either.

Latessa, a Lakewood resident, was cited for pedaling his “quadricycle” down Madison Avenue last September, before Carroll tossed out the case last month. 

Mayor Michael Summers has backpedaled somewhat on an earlier proposal to close what he called a “loophole” in the city’s ordinances.

“I’ve matured in my view of this,” said Summers. “We only have one of these right now. It’s important not to overreact. We can study it; we can pay attention and think about it.”

Safety, everyone at the meeting agreed, is the point. 

“If you’re concerned about the safety of your son, I’d recommend having a helmet, seat-belt and having lights — regardless of what the law says,” Ward 2 councilman Tom Bullock told Latessa.

Latessa told cleveland.com that riding his Rhoades vehicle is a good way to spend time with his autistic son, Tyler.

“As long as they let me ride it, I am fine with that,” Latessa told Lakewood Patch following the meeting. “My son is more important than any ordinance.”

In his opinion, Judge Patrick Carroll said the quadricycle is not likely safe for the roads, but pointed out that the vehicle — not unlike a bicycle — doesn’t fall under the classification of a toy.

The Rhoades Car is a four-wheeled bike that “rides like a car.”

It’s 5-feet long, with two front seats — each with a set of pedals — and a bench-style backseat. 

City officials take issue with the size of the “quadricycle,” too wide, they say, for city streets.

Kevin Cronin, with Bike Cleveland, attended the meeting with a few other bike advocates to support Latessa.

“Bicycles have been working on good roads since the time before there were even cars,” said Cronin.

“Bikes are vehicles for purposes of the Ohio Revised Code. That should be the starting point of what we’re talking about… I have no problem recognizing that what we’re talking about is a bicycle.” 

Summers said the administration’s goal is to study the idea before making any decisions. “We need to define it,” he said. “What is it? Council will have to make that determination.

“Personally, I love the idea,” he added. “But I want it to be safe. I worry mightily about somebody getting clobbered, particularly if it’s something we could have avoided.”

The committee is expected to discuss the issue again at an upcoming meeting.

“This is the beginning of a conservation,” said at-large councilman Ryan Nowlin, who is also the chairman of the public safety committee. “This is clearly an issue.”

“The fact that there is a loophole out there…. We have an obligation to do something.”

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