Miami Herald – Scooter riders risk necks to save on gas

Mon, May 28, 2007


(Rowdy scooterists always to blame… making life tough for poor, defenseless SUV drivers)

Here’s a rare story about how economics increases the scooter population. Well, what makes it rare is the tone of the writer. Larry “LL Cruel Jay” Lebowitz, bust out with this (snippet):

With gas prices hovering at the previously unthinkable level of $3.18 a gallon, more motorists are looking to save a few bucks on the backs of mopeds and scooters.

Once thought to be the trendy vehicle of choice for South Beach club kids and takeout delivery boys, mopeds and scooters are showing up with increasing frequency on heavily traveled mainland streets…

The spike in scooter traffic is only going to mean more potential chaos on the roadrageous streets of South Florida…

”I encounter those suckers just about every day,” Diaz said of the scooter daredevils on Biscayne Boulevard.

”I cringe when I see aggressive drivers zip past in an attempt to get out from behind someone riding a scooter” — especially since most of them aren’t donning helmets.

Diaz, who drives a midsize SUV, realizes the scooter operators are, for the most part, pretty skilled and brave. But it’s just too dangerous…

”And so, a scooter driver becomes just another annoying slowdown or traffic obstacle instead of a real, living, breathing person trying to navigate our roads,” she said. ‘I’m constantly thinking to myself, `If a car or SUV clips a scooter, the [scooter] driver is as good as gone.’ ”

Diaz recognizes the scooter operators aren’t without fault.

Just like their cousins on motorcycles, the scooter operators take advantage of their size and maneuverability, squeezing to the front of lines idling at red lights.

Except there’s a big difference: motorcycles can haul ass, getting out of the way in a matter of seconds. Scooters, on the other hand, put-put-putter along, forcing everyone behind them to go slower, adding a couple more pinches of ”frustration” to the already bubbling cauldron of potential road rage.

Streetwise tends to side with the car-driving masses on this issue. Just because a scooter or motorcycle can squeeze between the rows at a traffic light doesn’t mean they should do it.

The increase in South Florida scooter traffic is inevitable as gas prices continue to rise along with high-rise, infill development. But it’s not just going to be exotic hipsters and leggy wannabe models clutching miniaturized doggies on the back of Pepto-colored Vespas.

Paul Steward is starting to see the other end of the economic spectrum pass through the doors of his Vento dealership in Hollywood. Lots of people living paycheck-to-paycheck have been dropping by Steward’s store on U.S. 441 since gas prices returned to the $3 a gallon level for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.

”It’s a real mishmash. We’ve got more of the older set coming in. Most of the people we’ve been dealing with lately want to finance,” Steward said. “Finance a $1,500 to $2,000 bike?”

Most of these customers have bad, or nonexistent credit. Some are recently arrived immigrants living an all-cash existence.

”I had a woman in here last week; she wanted to finance a $600 used bike. Six hundred dollars, on credit. I felt bad for her. That’s a tough one,” Steward said. “But it gives you a sense of just how hard it is for some people.”

Whew! LL stops just short of calling them “Scooter Trash”. Of course the enraged SUV driver isn’t at fault here, nor the cheeky, big bike rider. Nope, just the pretentious hipster or poor, broke immigrant “taking advantage” if the situation and clogging up our roads… making us mad… causing road rage. I’d be mad to if I was stuck idling in traffic at 12MPG. No word on whether or not smaller vehicles could cure some of their travel whoas.
(just to clarify for those SUV owning, new visitors to the “Scoop”. I don’t hate SUVs in general. I own one! A Honda CR-V. It’s relatively fuel efficient and is normally hauling 3-4 people, a stroller and other stuff. It’s the wife’s monkey wagon… the kid carrier. I just can’t stand to see gas guzzling, personnel carriers hauling… a driver.)


3 Responses to “Miami Herald – Scooter riders risk necks to save on gas”

  1. GenWaylaid Says:

    I would gladly commute at 25 miles an hour if I wasn’t afraid of ending up a hood ornament. Honestly, the only reason I don’t have a 50cc scooter is that I don’t want my final resting place to be the drain at the car wash.

    SOMETHING needs to be done about overly aggressive drivers. I suggest ditching the carpool lanes for “asshole lanes.” Better mark plenty of them.


  2. Steve Says:

    What if they had the “casual lane” for people taking the slow, scenic route?


  3. Anonymous Says:

    I find it humorous that I know the man pictured here…Paul…and Donna on the moped in the post up top. How odd to see these two folks who know nothing of each other and live 3000 miles apart so close on a webpage…


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