Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Controversial? Me? Surely you jest.

Those of you who are web-savvy will be able to figure out what cruffler means and get an idea of why Drek thinks I might stir up the pot a bit. I'll save some of my antics for another time. Since this is my first post I'll try to keep the controversy to a low level.

Today I'm advocating the use of motor scooters as a viable alternative to cars. Those of you in big cities with effective mass transit systems don't really need to worry about transportation costs. They will change with the cost of fuel of course, but in general there is nothing you can do to reduce your "fuel consumption" other than walk or ride a bike. Those of us in places without effective mass transit are in the greatest position to benefit from reduced fuel consumption.

I've been riding a scooter for nearly eight months now. It was originally just to go back and forth to work, having worked out that the monthly payment on it plus the gas it consumed would be less than the monthly gas consumption of my car. As gas prices go up the advntage increases and I don't expect them to drop significantly ever again. I'm not advocating getting rid of your car. Just as you wouldn't use a butter knife to cut down a tree, you must match the tool to the job. If I go grocery shopping or need to go a very long distance, the car is a much better choice. Honestly though, most of the time I'm just transporting myself and maybe a few things that can fit in a backpack. While I could use a bicycle, and I have sometimes, the time and sitance involved makes it impractical most of the time, not to mention the gallon of sweat my clothes end up soaking.

It was a rather simple decision for me to get a scooter. In Florida, a two-wheeled motor vehicle with an engine displacement of less than 50cc is barely considered a motor vehicle. It is not even considered a motorcycle. The immediate consequence is that you don't need a motorcycle endorsement on your driving license. There are no gears to shift so the controls are more like a bicycle than a motorcycle so this makes sense. For the truly stupid it also means you're not required to wear a helmet. I do because I want to continue to live should something bad happen. Of great economic impact is the lack of insurance requirement. The scooter tends to weigh as much as you do so at maximum speed against a car you'll probably do at most $500 worth of damage. Since it's not required, voluntary insurance is dirt cheap. Of course fuel economy is great with theese little engines. I get 83 MPG though your mileage may vary.

This makes the economic aspect of scooter ownership seem pretty good but there are some practicality issues. Cargo capacity is one, but that can normally be solved with saddlebags or backpacks. Most scooters have internal compartments. Like I said before, most of the time it's just me so cargo is a small matter. The greatest barrier to mass practicality is speed. City traffic moves along at 45+ MPH while my 50cc engine barely edges 35 MPH. Getting passed by semis on state highways is a little intimidating. I would like to see the 50cc ceiling raised to 125-150cc. This would allow for a top speed between 40 and 50 MPH so that scooters could move along at normal traffic pace. There are other potential problems with two wheeled vehicles, but I'll consider them pretty rare.

If more people drove scooters we would reduce our dependency on foreign oil, help the environment, reduce traffic congestion, , etc. More importantly, it's just fun to ride around in one of these things. We would all get along better if we had a little more fun in our lives. And that's a good thing.


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