Minimum age to ride a motorcycle?

A reader asked if young children are allowed to ride on a motorcycle.

Is there a minimum age for passengers? The reader also asked if a child is permitted to ride in front of the motorcycle operator.

You may be surprised to know that Michigan law does not specify a minimum age to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle.

Instead, Michigan law has established a minimum size to be a motorcycle passenger. MCL 257.658a states that “a passenger shall not ride on a motorcycle unless his or her feet can rest on the assigned footrests or pegs except … due to a permanent physical disability.”

Michigan law recognizes that the size of the rider, rather than age, is a very important factor to safely ride a motorcycle. If both feet of a passenger cannot rest on the footrests, the operator and/or passenger is violating the law.

Based on Michigan law, it is not permissible for a passenger of a motorcycle to ride in front of the operator.

In the same section of the Michigan Vehicle Code, it specifies that “a motorcycle shall be equipped with adequate seats and footrests or pegs for each designated seating position.”

Because motorcycle manufacturers designate the front seat and the corresponding footrests for the operator, a passenger would not be permitted in that seating location.

Also, according the Michigan Motorcycle Operator Manual, “Children should be placed immediately behind the rider. A child sitting in front of the rider will not be able to properly balance him/herself and may interfere with the rider’s control of the motorcycle.”

The Michigan State Police would like everyone to remember to ride safely.

Practice good habits, such as always keeping your headlights on, wearing protective clothing, eyewear, and a Michigan Department of Transportation-approved crash helmet. As summer approaches, be especially watchful for deer and other animals, especially at night.

Also, take weather conditions into consideration.

In addition, we want to remind all motorists to watch for motorcyclists and to make sure your path is clear before entering a roadway or changing lanes.

Ashley Simpson is a community service trooper for the Michigan State Police-Alpena Post. If you have a question for Trooper Simpson, you can email her at asktroopersimpson@gmail.com or mail them to Ask A Trooper, Michigan State Police-Alpena Post, 3283 W. Washington Ave., Alpena, Mich., 49707.