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“Excuse Me, Where is Soulard Market?”

September 8, 2006 Farmers' Markets, Scooters 13 Comments

“Follow me”, I said. This was the conversation today at 7th and Chouteau as an older man pulled up next to me while I was on my scooter at a red light. I was heading home from downtown and was going to pass Soulard Market. As we got to Soulard Market I pointed so he’d know we were there and he waved.

The point of the story? It is not about a need for signs pointing to Soulard Market but that people talk to me all the time while I am on the scooter. Every time I’m out on the scooter I get questions from motorists or pedestrians asking for directions or “what kinda mileage do you get?” Sometimes when I am driving my car I will have similar interactions if I have my windows down but so often people have their cars all closed up. I never understood those people that have a convertible with the top up in perfect weather.

At lunch today a friend said he and his wife are considering a two seater scooter. While I never occurred to me before, but it struck me how intimate that could be for a couple — a level of intimacy that they can’t get in a car (at least not while driving).

This past Monday marked the 1-year anniversary of my scooter and I could not be more pleased. It does not offer the exercise or thrill of a human powered bicycle but it is far better than any car (and I’ve had 3 fast European turbo-charged cars). I’ve done about 2,300 miles in the last year which is not bad considering that right after I got my new car in November I didn’t ride the scooter much in the winter.

Some of the basic questions with answers.

•Is that a Vespa? Nope, Honda Metropolitan.
• What did that run you? New Metropolitan’s are $1,850+ tax. Some Chinese imports are cheaper, Vespas are considerably more.
•What kinda milage you get? 85-90mpg.
• How fast will it go? 35mph.
•Can you go on the highway? See previous answer.
• Do you feel safe? Yes, defensive driving is a good practice regardless of the vehicle you use.
• Do you need a license, registration or insurance? Oh boy, this is a big gray area. Nearly everyone in Missouri will tell you that with a 49cc scooter that you do not need any of these. Part of the Missouri law speaks to the top speed of an unregistered moped being 30mph. I know of nobody in Missouri that has registered or insured their 49cc scooter.

A year ago I was just seeking some fun and to save some money on gas, although not enough to save on the purchase price. Today I see the value is much greater to me than simply the gas savings. I get unexpected conversations with strangers and a very flexible vehicle that is great for running around the city.


Currently there are "13 comments" on this Article:

  1. julia says:

    I’m tickled to see more and more of them around. Keep on scootin’!

  2. travis reems says:

    Happy anniversary!

  3. Jim Zavist says:

    But doesn’t riding a sccoter make one look just a little bit fruity?! 😉

    [UR – The guy with the Miata asks me if my scooter makes me look fruity? Hmmmm. Some of the scooters are larger in size, come in more masculine colors and if you wear a leather jacket can come across as quite butch. The Miata ranks right up there on the “fruit” scale with a VW Jetta. http://www.cartalk.com/content/features/Gay-Lesbian/gay-guy1.html
    For those who are very PC please note that I am a very out gay man who does not take any offense from Jim at the term fruity. If he’d of said “light in the loafers” we might have had an issue….]

  4. Douglas Duckworth says:

    Hey, I resent that comment!

    I drive a 2000 Buick Park Avenue and I am not collecting social security, nor am I flashing my AARP card for reduced prices on prune juice!

  5. maurice says:

    Thanks Steve, those are helpful answers to questions that I know I’ve had.

    We are looking at getting scooters. I think it would be fun to have them…never thought about a 2 seater, but that would be great!

    [UR You are welcome, always glad to share what I know. I’m a little conflicted on two-seat scooters (or motorcycles). One, I’m not sure I’d enjoy being second — part of the fun is the wind in your face. It is nice for a couple to be able to go places together only on one scooter but I can see times that you might want two scooters — such as going to breakfast together but then splitting off to different errands/meetings.

    I suppose getting a 2-seater first and seeing how you like it makes sense. Then, a second scooter can be purchased if you think it will come in handy — it might be another 2-seater or a single seater. I have a list of dealers and manufacturers over at http://stlscooter.com]

  6. Mike says:

    I have the same exeperience on mine.

    Another advantage is that you really notice the environment around you when you are on a scooter. I notice so musch more about the architecture, people’s gardens etc,. on my scooter versus driving a car.

  7. Tony says:

    What’s the size of the gas tank?

    What made you decide on the Honda? Any specific features that drew you to it?

    [UR The tank holds 1.1gallons so I have to fill up often. Three main features about the Honda — cheap, 4-stroke engine rather than 2-stroke (better for environment) and Honda reliability. ]

  8. Jim Zavist says:

    touche . . . although my rusty old Jeep is a bit more maculine (and fuel inefficient)!

  9. Fox Park Paul says:

    I get the same thing with my Jeep Wrangler; people are always asking me for directions, It’s pretty bad for gas mileage though but it doesn’t seem to bother me since i take the metro to work. I’m considering selling it though since the upkeep for a car is so expensive and a scooter might just do the trick.

  10. Jim Zavist says:

    A philosophical question – what is the better value? Spending $2000 to get 80 mpg OR just keeping the 20 mpg gas hog (that’s already paid for) and spending half that, $1000, on gas? At $2.50/gallon, that’s 400 gallons. 20 mpg x 400 gallons = 80,000 miles. I know it’s a pay-me-now-or-pay-me-later sort of argument, but it’s gonna take me 5 or 6 years in gas savings to recoup my investment, plus I’m consuming more resources in trashing the old vehicle and creating the new one. Bottom line, the smartest thing we can all do is to just buy fuel-efficient vehicles and literally drive ’em into the ground. Buying something new (or new to me) every two or three years may be good for the car dealers, the finance companies and the tax collector, but it’s NOT good for the environment or our own financial health . . .

    [UR We don’t make every decision strictly by the numbers. But, what your calculations fail to take into account is added wear and tear on the car and the amount of depreciation.

    Plus, like your Miata, the scooter is just fun to drive — far more than any car. If I really wanted to save money I’d toss out the car and scooter and stick with my bikes. The scooter is a good compromise and it is getting me closer to being car-free. ]

  11. Jason Toon says:

    I used to ride a little 49cc Honda scooter from my house in TGS to my job in the Loop, and I’d get the same reactions: lots of talk about how much mileage I got, impromptu offers to buy the scooter from me on the spot, etc.

    When traffic was really bad on Skinker, I’d veer off into that gated neighborhood to the west, ride through there, and walk my scooter through one of the pedestrian gates for access to Delmar. Felt great to get one over on the SUV brigade grinding their way through traffic.

    Safety? I usually stuck to side streets and never felt like I was in danger, not even on the steep hill as Macklind descends from I-44 to Manchester. Like you, Steve, I also never licensed or registered mine.

    Then some asshole stole the scooter out of my backyard. The End.

  12. Terry says:

    Has anyone tried an electric scooter? Electric Ride in Maryland Heights sells the E-Max scooter. It’s very cool–in concept and in style. I can’t even ride a bike, though, so I’m stuck with the car for now (But I’m learning! The bike path along River des Peres may make a biker of me yet….)

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