Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Scoot On

An article in last week's Times indicated that scooter sales are up something like 45% this year. It's about time. I've been a scooter fan for 20 years; my first was a 1986 Honda Spree. That was back in the two-stroke days, when I'd have to feed it both oil and gas. For the past six years I've been scooting around town on a Honda Metropolitan, a bike I highly recommend: it's a regular four-stoke engine, gets around 90 miles a gallon, and is styled to look like a Vespa while costing 1/3 the price to purchase and maintain.

Mine is the smallest scooter available, so my top speed is 40 mph downhill. Even though I can't take it on the highway, the scooter has a number of advantages beyond fuel economy. For now, few enough people have scooters that it's a novelty. Strangers honk, wave, and ask to sit on it wherever I go. The higher fuel prices go, the more popular I am on my scooter. Parking is also incredibly easy. The police in my small city haven't figured out that it's illegal to park on the sidewalk, so parking is particularly easy here, but it's been no problem wherever I've lived. It can fit next to a bike rack, or between street spaces, or between other parked cars. Next to a Smart Car it's probably the best in-town transportation in terms of ease of parking.

I'm off in a few minutes to get the scooter inspected. In PA all pedal-less bikes must be licensed and inspected. This costs approximately $40 a year; my insurance runs me $50 a year. Add in a quart of oil, and you're looking at $100 a year to keep it running. I bought the bike in June, 2002 and thus far have had no other maintenance on it, although at some point I'll need a new battery, tires, brakes, etc. Because I don't use it in the winter I only put around 400 miles a year on it, though, so tires and brakes feel a long way off. In short, a scooter is incredibly economical.

Really, who doesn't want to feel popular, ride a cute vehicle, save money, and reduce carbon emissions, all at once? The rest of the world has known the advantages of scooters for years. Do yourself a favor - find out for yourself.


Anonymous said...

it looks like fun!! wish i had one.

tunsie said...

In australia,because petrol costs r high.most cars r small.I saw the 3 cylinder car that just came on the american market while i was at a cafe.this car could park in a closet if it had 2.there r many scooters,and they r widely used,more so then in the states.I also saw a lot of bicycles being used.If I catch u coming down a hill at 40 mph,u r in big trouble.i luv u el.tunsie.tunsie.tunsie