Home » Scooters » Recent Articles:

Gotta Hurry to Get that Loaf of Bread

Earlier today, around 11am, I was heading eastbound on Loughborough, a 2-lane street with on-street parking on both sides.  I was roughly near the middle of Carondalet Park and all of a sudden a Chevy Caprice passes me.  It took me a second to realize I had just been passed.  I looked down at my speedometer on my scooter — I was doing roughly 32mph.  I look up at a speed limit sign and it is posted at 30mph.  Then I flip the guy the bird.

I ended up being right behind him at the traffic signal entrance to Loughborough Commons.  I tooted my horn and yelled “hurry up” as he had a back window down a bit.  Once he parked I asked why he passed me, stating that that was dangerous and what was his hurry.  His only response, “Are you a cop?”

Folks, before you get in such a hurry to pass those of us on two wheels take a look at the speed limit and check to see what speed we are traveling.  If we are going slow on a 4-lane road then simply use the other lane (although don’t cut back in front of us and then turn right).   If we are on a 2-lane road and traveling at the posted speed limit just wonder if you really need to get to your destination a second or two before we do.  The bread will still be on the shelves when you get there.


First Time in 25 Years, I Don’t Own A Car!

I bought my first car, a horrible ’74-1/2 Mustang II, when I was 15 years old. I couldn’t drive it yet but we had plenty-o-parking — our suburban driveway could hold up to nine vehicles with two more in the garage. We never had that many cars at a time but you get the point. Since then I’ve owned a whole series of cars — once having three at one time.

For the first time in my adult life I can say “I don’t own a car.” More importantly, cars no longer own me. This is not to say I will ban cars from my life because I know that not to be true, I will ride with friends and I will even rent a car now and then. And yes, come winter, I may break down and buy a car to get me through the really cold weather.

The longest journey begins with a single step, not with a turn of the ignition key.
Edward Abbey

For years now I had been bicycling and, since September 2005, using my trusty Honda motor scooter to get around in town, all while still owning and using a car. The car was always there when I needed it or just didn’t feel like getting out the scooter or bicycle — that quick trip to the store or some other errand. Even when I’d have a car break down I’d routinely get a loaner from the dealer or pick up a rental. I was never long without a car.

On May 7th I parked my car at a friend’s house while I was going to be on my 5-day trip through rural Kansas & Iowa. The next day I walked a few blocks to catch the bus and then caught MetroLink to the airport. Even on that trip I didn’t drive — my friend Rich rented the vehicle and drove the entire time. Aside from me not being a good passenger (although I am learning to be), I’ve really enjoyed not driving.

Upon return I left my car at my friend’s place so I’d not be tempted to drive it — I had to see for myself if I could manage, and I did. In the time since I have relied on my scooter to get me where I needed to go — I mostly stay in the city or inner ring suburbs. Those of you locally know we’ve had some pretty good downpours of late and I can say I did not escape the wrath from above — I got drenched a couple of times. The world did not come to an end when I got wet or adjusted my schedule around some bad weather, I dealt with it.

A few days ago I thankfully handed over my car keys to the new owner and on the 4th I celebrated another type of freedom. Some long awaited financial freedom — I’d been making car payments since the Fall of 2000 on three different vehicles (VW, Audi and Scion). I’d had periods before that of payments and unplanned repair bills.

In the 3 years since I left my well-paying 9-5 job my income has dropped considerably while my personal happiness has increased dramatically. The old joke has to do with going to work to pay for the car while needing the car to get to work — a never ending cycle. The car has brought us an unmatched level of personal mobility yet the costs give some less freedom than they like. The freedom of the car had, for me, turned into the trap of the car.

Driving a brand new car feels like driving around in an open billfold with the dollars flapping by your ears as they fly out the window.
– Grey Livingston

I did the math on what I’d probably spent in the last 24 years that I have owned a car — well over $120,000 and I have zip to show for it. That is really depressing when you stop and think about it. I could be nearly debt free, including my mortgage, with that kinda cash.

Of late, the cost of graduate tuition at St. Louis University was conflicting with car ownership (payments, insurance, etc…), something had to give. Getting a masters’ degree, I decided, was more important than retaining a car. My ego would simply have to deal with society’s view of me not owning a car — I frankly don’t care if someone thinks less of me for not owning a car.

Americans are broad-minded people. They’ll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater, and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn’t drive, there is something wrong with him.
Art Buchwald

As I indicated above, I was making some good money in the past that I am not now. However, my real estate and consulting business is picking up quite a bit of late — more on that next week. The point is I am not going to do things I don’t like to earn money to pay for things society thinks I must have, I want to do the work that makes me happy. I’ll be the first to admit that a good bit of my personal ego has been wrapped up in the car I drove and I have sadly passed judgement on others about their car choice or even worse, a lack of a car.

A car is costly and should not be mandatory for functioning in our society. I had long thought that you had to live in Manhattan to be car-free but that is just not the case, the last two months of personal testing have proven that to me.

Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends.
Lewis Mumford

It will not be my intention here to guilt owners of cars (SUVs yes). I already know many couples that have managed to go from two cars down to one — I hope that my sharing future experiences will encourage others to reduce car ownership and/or total miles driven. Not everyone can or should take the journey that I am embarking on — we must all do what is right for ourselves. For me, this was a good time to go car-free.

Mumford is right, let’s build our cities for lovers and friends, not the damned car.


Why That Delivered Pizza Costs More

As summer approaches so do escalating gasoline prices. My car gets over 30mpg in the city and I use my 85+mpg scooter whenever I can. Many of you may be thinking you can handle the gas prices too. But what about the cost of getting a pizza delivered? From KSDK:

Adam Soiab, a delivery driver for Joanie’s Pizza in the Soulard area of St. Louis, said the price hike is unsettling, considering he spends most of his time on the road.

“That’s the main thing I do. I get in my car and drive. So needless to say, I use a lot of gasoline.”

The company includes a $1.50 delivery surcharge to help offset soaring prices.

Wait, another buck fifty? This is simply the tip of the iceburg salad! Look for more fuel charges from other fuel intensive businesses. I can’t really blame them, the restuarants and their delivery folks are just trying to earn a living. Remember, those pizza delivery guys can’t afford a new hybrid Prius. But maybe, for close deliveries, businesses can look to more efficient modes such as bicycles and scooters.

I’d much rather pay the extra $1.50 so they can buy a scooter for deliveries.

So now is a good time for some predictions. I think, come this Fall, we will not see the gas prices dip back below $3/gallon for extended periods. The demand is too high, the supply to scarce, the extraction of more too costly. Get used to paying at least $3/gallon for gas and extra to have that pizza delivered.

Or is this simply my own wishful thinking as sweet justice to all those Hummer drivers living in exurban ranch houses an hour from the CBD? Maybe… Refineries are down at the moment but they could be back up by fall. Cost of exploration and drilling is certainly up but with increased prices for a barrel of oil it makes it more fiscally worth while to use various extraction methods. The incentives to create new more efficient technologies will increase.

I certainly do hope, along the way, people will think maybe a walk or bike ride to the store (or local pizza place) would be kinda nice.


How Many Pigs Can Your Scooter Carry?

October 24, 2006 Scooters 5 Comments

You know, I’ve never tried carrying any pigs, eggs or construction materials on my scooter. But, it seems many are able to transport quite large objects without a gargantuan truck.

Friends of mine sent me the link to a fun website that is nothing but great images of people transporting goods or many people via bike or scooter. Click on the photo at right to see an additional 22 images, including a scooter hauling quite a few pigs to market.

Third world? Yes, but just maybe we can learn a few things from them about getting by with less, including making a smaller impact on the planet’s environment. As I begin to travel more I think I need to find some of these far away places where scooters can transport so much. Maybe I can become as well traveled as Matt Harding.

Who is Matt? Good question. But, the better question is, “Where the Hell is Matt?” Very hard to describe but basically this self-described “deadbeat” has traveled to nearly 40 countries and has put together a video of him dancing (poorly) in many places all over the world. It will bring a smile to your face. So, Where the Hell is Matt?


Washington University Medical Center Provides Motorcycle Parking

Today I am attending the St. Louis Great Streets Symposium being held at the Newman Center on Euclid in the midst of the Washington University Medical Campus. I’m actually writing this from the event — you gotta love wi-fi.

Upon arriving I found an out of the way place to lock my scooter. As I was getting ready to secure the lock a Wash U security person drove by and said the city would cut the lock and tow my scooter. He said I should take advantage of the motorcycle parking a block to the west. I had no idea they had motorcycle parking!

I thanked him and headed over to the area where he pointed. How wonderful to see a special section just for motorcycles and scooters. I’ll have pictures tonight but it was roughly 10 spaces in an unused area adjacent to a building. It is actually covered by virtue of the design of the building. Two motorcycles were there as well as two scooters, one a blue Honda Metropolitan.

So pulling out my computer this morning I began searching the Washington University Medical School website for a guide to motorcycle and bike parking. I found a nice map indicating where parking garages are located but nothing on their very helpful motorcycle parking. What is interesting is this symposium is about great streets. The topic includes making streets open for people, not just cars. But the literature on the event didn’t make note of the fact we are next door to a bus transfer station and MetroLink station. What a statement that East-West Gateway Council of Governments didn’t mention alternative means of arriving and “parking” for the event.

It is encouraging to see Ald. Phyllis Young (D-7th) and from Jim Shrewsbury’s office, Brandyn Jones and Pam Ross attending. It would have been nice to have seen more folks from city hall.