Home » Scooters » Recent Articles:

City of Clayton Threatens to Tow 49cc Scooter/Moped

clayton_scooter - 11.jpgThe note wasn’t very friendly. Here I was attending a luncheon (Society of Professional Journalists) and my wee little moped parked at the tail end of a parking space seems to have offended the City of Clayton’s sense of order. You will recall a month ago I had a similar issue in Clayton while attending a different luncheon, see post. In that case, I was parked on a really wide sidewalk, out of the pedestrian path, and the parking enforcement person came up as I was leaving. At that time I was told I must park in a full metered space.

So yesterday I am heading to Clayton for this event and I just can’t bring myself to take up an entire full space. Plenty of spaces were available and I could certainly afford the pocket change to feed the meter. The issue is two-fold: use of space and personal safety. In short, a “vehicle” that is only a few feet long and weighs less than 200lbs only needs so much room. It certainly does not need the amount of space a 3-ton SUV requires. And it is that 3-ton SUV that has men concerned — will it see my scooter before rushing into a parking space?

clayton_scooter - 02.jpgLooking around the area I found this sweet little left over spot along a parking zone on Forsyth. This last parking space is considerably longer than those immediately in front of it. In this little left over section I was out of the way of all pedestrians, including those at the adjacent bus stop, and cars had plenty of room to come and go from the main space. My only alternative would have been to ask the restaurant management if I could have parked somewhere on their private property but looking at the situation that would have likely involved compromising one of their pedestrian entrances. So, I went with the little bit of left over street.

… Continue Reading


Now is a Great Time to Buy a Scooter

October 10, 2006 Scooters 4 Comments

IMG_5847So there I was out taking photos of the planning disaster commonly known as Loughborough Commons and this great blue scooter enters off Loughborough. After getting a few pictures I was heading into the store to pick up a few items for myself. I spotted the beautiful blue scooter and parked next to it.

Once inside the store I see a former client, I sold him and his wife their corner storefront building used for their home and art studio. Turns out it was him on the scooter. We talked for a bit and he says he spent a while searching through eBay auctions and the local Craigslist before purchasing this beautiful 1981 Honda via eBay. He bought his scooter this summer after they returned from a vacation in Greece where scooters were commonplace, he said.

I bought my scooter in August 2005 via Craigslist. The owner had just bought it a few weeks before but quickly realized he was too tall for the size of the scooter. He likely got an OK deal on it from the dealer since it was a new 2004 model he bought in July 2005. But, I got an even better deal. He had already purchased a faster and bigger scooter and didn’t want to have both around so I was able to negotiate a good price.

At one time I had something like 8 bicycles and I could see myself having a whole collection of scooters. That is, if I were not paying $800/credit hour to attend Saint Louis University. But I did some searching this weekend on eBay and on Craigslist and there are many scooters for sale. You’ll find many ads that read something like, “Nearly new scooter, bought it and rode around the block a few times.” You can find 3-4 year old scooters with under 400 miles on them!

Many scooters are sold to people who think they will use them and then don’t. The trick here is to not have that happen to you.

Here is a current ad on our local Craigslist:

2005 Piaggio BV200 ONLY 1800 MILES!!! – $3950
I purchased this new in May and have had little time to ride it. Aside from a couple small scratches from rolling it in and out of my shed this bike is like new. I paid $5175 for this just 5 months ago so come get yourself a bargain!

This is a large & fast scooter, quite different than mine. It has a 200cc engine and will carry two people quite easily. At 1,800 miles this person actually has done some good riding but probably not enough to justify the expense.

Here are a few resources:

• stlscooter.com: I started this website a year ago and have done only a few posts. However, I did do a nice listing of local dealership on where to buy scooters as well as listing various manufacturers.

• eBay Search: Scooter: eBay is good but shipping can be a real headache and potentially offset any savings. You can search more locally in the advanced search. Be wary about cheap knockoffs that are sold on eBay. If you can’t verify the manufacturer then it is best to steer clear. As with anything on eBay, don’t get caught up in the moment and overpay.

Craigslist: Motorcycle/Scooter: The same warning applies here about no-name scooters being sold for what appears to be bargain pricing. Again, verify the maker of the scooter to see if they are reputable. If they are not on my list of manufacturers on STLScooter then beware. You might decide to search in Chicago or Kansas City as well if you don’t find what you are looking for.

Many scooters bought this past Spring and Summer will be sold this Fall. If you want a used scooter, now is the time to look.


Trying To Get to South County Via MetroBus; My Scooter Awaits

I figure I preach enough about walking and using mass transit I should make such a person attempt myself. You see, my beloved scooter got a flat tire from a nail on Monday evening as I was heading to dinner downtown. I ended up pushing it the last 6 blocks to meet my friend, late. I left it in another friend’s parking garage downtown until the dealer could come and pick it up. I’d been meaning to take it in for routine service anyway so the timing was actually OK. Now it is ready this fine Saturday morning and I need to pick it up and ride back home. It is located at Mungenast Motorsports behind Dave Mungenast’s St. Louis Honda on South Lindbergh.

This obviously excludes me driving my car down there as I’d have to go back somehow later and get my car. My first thought was to get a friend to drop me off but then I wondered if I could just take the bus to get there. Why inconvenience a friend and use more gas when the bus is likely going that way anyway. Plus, I can’t let Joe Frank be the only blogging about taking the bus.

So I pull up Metro’s recent “TripFinder” website where you can put in your starting point and destination and it gives you options for bus and light rail — a Mapquest for mass transit. But I was getting these weird results all wanting to take me downtown and then up North with results in excess of two hours. I discovered that although I entered the destination address of 5939 South Lindbergh Blvd the software dropped the “South” part and wanted to take me to Florissant in North County. Zip codes are not allowed or at least I haven’t found any combination of commas or whatever that permits them. Some mapping software will ask do you mean “South” or “North” 5939 Lindbergh just to make sure. This, however, gave me no such option. From past observation I knew I had two bus routes near my house that both ended up at South County Mall which is not far from my destination but probably further than I’d be willing to walk both due to distance and environment (suburban hell). I pulled up Metro’s system map and confirmed that #40 and #93 both make it to the mall.

The TripFinder offers another way to find the address, I can use a map or find a street and look for stops on that street. So, I pull up Lindbergh and they have a very long list of stops on Lindbergh — 5 pages of stops. Makes sense, the street is very long cutting across a wide swath of the region. And Lindbergh is listed as “Lindbergh”, “Lindbergh US-61”, “Lindbergh Blvd” and so on with the cross streets coming after that. I looked up the area on Google and saw that Mueller Rd was probably a likely stop. I picked page 3 of the list and found the Mueller stop relatively easy. Plug it in and I’ve got my logical route to South County Mall via the #93 with a transfer to the #49 along Lindbergh. Total travel time, just a few over an hour. Total time figuring this out, about 10-15 minutes. For a frame of reference, Google says the drive is 8.2 miles and should take 13 minutes.

So I am debating. The fare is $2.25 (bus w/transfer) which is not a big deal but I had to check my wallet to make sure I had some singles as they don’t make change. Looking at the schedule I see that half the hour travel time is spent waiting at the JC Penny at South County Mall, not exactly my idea of a good way to spend a nice Saturday. I do have class reading to do but I’d have to carry a backpack and my motorcycle helmet on the bus and while I am waiting. The bus leaving near my house on the #93 is on an hourly headway so I have to work on that schedule as well.

I just called my friend, he is picking me up in an hour.

On a somewhat related note: Dave Mungenast Sr. recently pass away from cancer. I had the fortune to meet and talk with him earlier this year while visiting his Classic Motorcycle Museum on Gravois in South City. I, of course, bent his ear about opening a new shop in the city for his Honda scooter sales. I had hoped to talk to him more in the future as he had great knowledge about what the city was like in the 1950s. The motorcycle museum location on Gravois was one of his early auto dealerships before he and nearly every other business fled to the once greener pastures of the suburbs. My condolences go out to the Mungenast family for their loss.


Clayton: No Scooters on the Sidewalk

Today I was having lunch at the posh Dominic’s Trattoria at the corner of Bonhomme and Brentwood. Upon arrival in my scooter, a bit on the wet side, I parked as I often do within the public right-of-way. Remember, the ROW is everything from one private property to another — sidewalk and street. In this case I was parked out of the line of the pathway of the main sidewalk.

Ideally, I’d not park in such a random place but in this part of the country parking for anything other than a car is hard to find. Don’t scroll down and tell me not to park on the sidewalk just yet — at least hear me out.

I was in Clayton attending this month’s luncheon for the Society of Professional Journalists, the group that I was on panel for last month. The topic this month was Freedom of Information requests! Upon leaving the restaurant I walked across the street to snap a few pictures and noticed a parking enforcement cart pull up behind cars parked on the street near my scooter. The enforcement officer was either there for my scooter or the cars — it quickly became apparent he was there because of my scooter.

As I approached I asked if there was problem. He said he was about to give me a ticket and that I could not part on the sidewalk. I said I was completely out of the path of the sidewalk. I asked where I should park. “In a metered space,” he replied. My scooter, technically a moped due to engine size, is tiny and would surely get run over in such a small space.

Aside from getting hit, it simply doesn’t make any sense to take up a 20ft long parking space for my scooter. How can that possibly be good public policy? I asked where, if I had bicycled instead, I could have parked my bike. His response? At a bike rack. Duh, right? Well, I looked up and down the street and no bike rack was in sight. In fact, I can’t think of a single bike rack in central Clayton. If one exists anywhere, it is well hidden.

Attempts to break our reliance on the single user car are often met with more obstacles rather than solutions. Clayton, like the City of St. Louis, needs to come to grips with bicycles, electric bicycles, mopeds and registered scooters. They will continue to increase in numbers so it would be wise for them to be pro-active.

The fun part of this story was the timing. As I am discussing this issue with the parking enforcement officer out comes one of the panelists from this month, KSKD reporter Mike Owens. Mike asked, “Are you getting a ticket?” When I turned back to the enforcement officer and asked if he knew Mike Owens, his look was priceless. It only took a minute for him to be in his cart and be on his way. Priceless.

Electric-assist bicycles have been around for many years but these are increasing in the marketplace. Really small mopeds, some with pedals and some without, are also becoming a good urban option. And finally, we are seeing electric scooters and hybrid scooters within the realm of affordable. With all these variations on small two-wheel motorized transportation where is the line drawn? If it has any motor at all it cannot be secured on a sidewalk? Would Clayton expect me to park an electric-assist bicycle in a full metered parking space simply because it has a motor and battery?

I have an idea but it will take an old scooter that can potentially be sacrificed. I’d take the scooter to Clayton and park in a metered space at noon, pay the meter and then hide in an adjacent location and film people’s reactions. I think you’ll see more than one person get upset of a small vehicle taking up such a large space. Look out Clayton, you may soon be on camera.

Ok, now you are free to tell me not to park my scooter on the sidewalk.


“Excuse Me, Where is Soulard Market?”

“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.