Home » Scooters » Recent Articles:

St. Louis Requires Kiddie Flags on Some 49cc Scooters

NOTE: I’ve revised the headline and the last paragraph since first posting a few hours ago.

Last year the City’s Board of Aldermen passed a new ordinance which is raising some red flags. Well, actually, red or orange flags. Before I get to the latest issue I need to give you some background.

During my campaign last year the issue of the annoying micro bikes came up. At a public meeting attended by Aldermen Dorothy Kirner, Schmid and Ortmann the particulars of the 2001 scooter law sponsored by the late Ald. Daniel Kirner as to how they relate to the new breed of miniature motorcycles.

On February 19, 2005 I pointed out, on my campaign site, that the city’s law regarding these toys had become obsolete (see report). Basically the 2001 law outlawed the motorized skateboard type scooters on city streets but did not address any sort of sit down type micro bike (see ordinance).

At that meeting a year ago Ald. Ortmann was one of the people that thought the 2001 covered these micro bikes. Apparently he set to work to correct the situation by introducing Board Bill #24 for a first reading on April 29, 2005.

Here is some text from the final ordinance which took affect on June 6, 2005:

17.02.315 Motorized bicycle.

“Motorized bicycle” shall mean any two- or three-wheeled device having an automatic transmission and a motor with a cylinder capacity of not more than fifty cubic centimeters, which produces less than three gross brake horsepower, and is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than thirty miles per hour on level ground, except those devices used by persons with disabilities for the purpose of mobility.

17.18.060 Equipment for motorcycle or motorized bicycle riders.

B. No person shall operate or ride upon a motorized bicycle unless such motorized bicycle is equipped with a red or orange flag measuring not less than twelve inches by twelve inches. Such flag shall extend not less than forty-eight inches in height above that portion of the seat occupied by the operator.

Yes, the law says I need to have a 12×12 flag at least 48 inches above the seat of my 49cc scooter (aka motorized bicycle). Like I’m going to do that.

In reviewing the history of the legislation it appears the flag language was not in the original bill, nor was it in a committee substitute. The flag language arrived in the form of a ‘floor substitute” which most likely means a last minute amendment on the floor of the Board of Aldermen.

So we now have the 2001 ordinance defining “motorized scooters” as the stand-up stake board type and an ordinance which defines motorized bicycles (a revision of an earlier ordinance which is too old to be online) that requires tall red flags. As someone that often gets on and off the scooter by throwing my leg over the week I’d find the flag a nuisance and a potential safety hazard. Like my bicycle, the riding position is quite upright and is highly visible.

I bought my 49cc Honda Metropolitan scooter on September 4th, 2005. It is generally believed among scooterists in Missouri that a 49cc scooter like mine or a Vespa does not require registration (plates), a motorcycle license or liability insurance. This is a bit of a gray area as various laws talk about engine displacement, transmission types, attainable speed, and total horsepower. Very similar scooters can vary on these criteria.

My scooter is not registered and I do not carry any liability insurance for it. I do, however, have a motorcycle permit and intent to take a motorcycle safety course which will get me my motorcycle license. I will not be installing a square foot flag above the seat height.

One thing I will do, help organize the local scooter groups that are understandably upset about this issue. I will also contact the local dealers and national manufacturers.

UPDATE 3/2/06 @ 8:30pm:

When writing this post earlier today I looked up the specs for my Honda Metropolitan scooter online. Honda’s website does not list the HP for my model. When I got home I found the information listed on the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin: 4.3HP. So, per the ordinance definition my scooter is not a motorized bicycle as the HP is greater than 3.

So now I am wondering if the City of St. Louis considers my scooter a motorcycle and all that goes with it — motorcycle license, license plates, insurance, etc.. I’m also curious if St. Louis’ definitions are similar to those in neighboring municipalities, St. Louis County and the state of Missouri.

I also feel like I’m going to need to carry a copy of the ordinance and my proof of HP with me as I scoot. I tell you, getting 85+ MPG is getting complicated.

– Steve


Scooter + Mini Cooper = Cute Picture

February 14, 2006 Scooters 7 Comments

scootmini.jpgToday I took advantage of the stunning weather and rode my scooter downtown for some meetings. Despite having a new car I enjoy time in the open air.

When you walk, bicycle and scoot you see things differently than you do from inside a car.

Speaking of inside… While I was inside Espresso Mod having a cool beverage this red & white Mini Cooper pulled up and parked next to my scooter. Everyone in the place noticed what a cute pairing this made.

When I left I noticed a vintage Lambretta scooter parked around the corner. Scooters, bikes and pedestrians add a very important visual layer to city life.

– Steve


I’m Not Ed Golterman

October 22, 2005 Scooters 2 Comments

A regular reader sent me a story from the Suburban Journals on someone many of us either know or have heard of, Ed Golterman:

He’s the bane of business bigwigs and politicos from Broadway to Bonhomme
Avenue, a tart-tongued crusader for Kiel Opera House who says downtown
redevelopers in the 1990s reneged on their promise to reopen the building, and
alleges those friendly with St. Louis’ midtown theater district have worked to
keep Kiel vacant.

I certainly agree with Golterman they Kiel Opera House should be re-opened. Here is a bit more about Golterman:

Now a singer and performer with the company Heartsong, Golterman performs in
concerts and theater productions with accompanist Chris Jackson and soprano
Danna Dockery. Due to a new form of transportation, his “Kiel Man” nickname may
be replaced with a new one: “The Biker Baritone.”

Biker Baritone?

“My car went to car hell — oh, what a lemon that was,” Golterman explained.
“So I’m driving a little Honda motor scooter. I haven’t yet put the tux on and
got on it, but I may, I just might.”

So if you see a guy in a tux on a scooter it is most likely Golterman and not me, I don’t own a tux. In fact, I’d be happy if I never wore one again.

Honda makes several models of scooters so his might be different than mine. But, I have had friends call me after spotting a scooter just like mine in the West End — thinking I was nearby.

– Steve


800 Miles On A Honda Metropolitan Scooter

October 18, 2005 Environment, Scooters 6 Comments


Tonight marks my first 800 miles on my scooter, not exactly a milestone number but I felt like sharing.

On October 1st I decided to record the miles on my bike, scooter and car so I could track my useage. In these first 18 days I’ve put a paltry 6 miles on my bicycle, 157 on my car and 308 on the scooter. The scooter represented a full 65% of my miles traveled. The scooter represented 98% of my fun for the same time period.

I’ve also been keeping detailed records of gas mileage. Right now I am at an average of 89mpg. I’ve noticed that as I have become more comfortable with the scooter I’ve taken busier roads and have been riding at full throttle. Lately I’ve been getting around 85-86mpg.

Since October 1st I’ve spent only $11.57 on gas for the scooter, including a fill-up earlier today. My total expenditure for gas on the scooter in the little over six weeks that I’ve owned it is a whopping $27.30. Less than thirty bucks for six weeks of fuel! I also filled up my car today and that was over $35.

I’ve purchased two helmets. First was a half helmet and most recently a 3/4 helmet with face shield for colder weather. Total cost $150. I’ve also had my first routine service which was around $110. A pair of leather gloves was $30. I’m not going to count the new jacket I bought because I needed a new jacket anyway.

Yes, I am quite pleased with my scooter purchase. As intended it has become my primary means of transportation. If you are considering a scooter for your needs check out my scooter blog at stlscooter.com.

– Steve

[Photo by fellow STLSyndicate blogger, Tom Lampe]


New St. Louis Scooter Blog Started

October 1, 2005 Books, Scooters 5 Comments

My growing interest in scooters as a means of efficient motorized transportation has prompted me to start a new site, stlscooter.com.

From this new site you can see links to local yahoo groups, dealers and other information. I’ve got posts on various scooters and detail on the environmental issues between some scooters.

A group of scooterists are getting together today (Saturday, October 1st) meeting at Francis Park and riding over to the Classic Motorcycle Museum. Use the link above for more details.

Also, be sure to pick up a copy of the October issue of The Healthy Planet. My ‘City Scene’ column includes some info on the green aspect of scooters and street cars.

– Steve