For a brief and wonderful few months in 2012 I had a scooter. It was given to me by a friend and I loved it!
My friend who gave me the scooter, and my son
I had great and glorious adventures learning how to “scoot commute.” I learned that you can ride in a mini-skirt though it is not actually desirable and may get you some interesting attention. I learned that few things made me smile more than hopping on my yellow and blue scooter to go wherever. I learned that if you ride in a windbreaker made for riding bicycles it will flap painfully on your arms and feel rather much like stinging nettles. I learned that few things are more fun than riding with a fellow scooter rider to a business meeting. I learned that if you pop the wheel over a high curb that is not actually a handicap ramp, you will lose control and crash into a brick wall.
I rode a scooter rider all through my year in Denmark where it is a common method of transportation for teens and adults. In DK I rode all year long, at night, alone, after a few beers, in the snow, in the rain, and with a bicyclist skitching along. I was, of course, 16 and in the countryside so there wasn’t a lot of real danger. My stupidity was probably the greatest danger!
Not me but that style of moped
I also had a small motorcycle back in …well, I don’t know the year but the when was when I lived in the buff-colored building on the corner in the apartment on the ground floor with the copper-colored walls and black trim with my boyfriend. I bought the bike in Daytona, Fl when we lived in the house on the beach with his mother where the metal hinges and mechanisms had to be changed out every year due to sea corrosion. I think we might have had a VW van too; there was definitely another vehicle, though I am not sure which of my many vehicles it was. We caravaned the bike and the possibly-van up through central GA on a long road trip. When a bike is only a 250 (maybe it was a 150) long road trips are not that fun. Fun is breaking it into small bits and stopping for picnics. Staying overnight in some Victorian house in Eastman GA with uncomfortable people. Riding in Spring. That’s fun. Not fun is arriving in Atlanta in a torrential rain storm at night with your boyfriend an indistinct vulnerable blur on a tiny little machine on the freeway trying to get safely up to Sandy Springs. I was driving the possibly-van; I was not experienced enough to handle the bike in those conditions. No one should be handling small bikes in those conditions. But we were so close to home that we had to keep going. We were “smelling home” as my mom likes to say.
This may have been the bike – it was small and it was red.
The bike sat more than it got ridden. It’s insane to have a small motorcycle in the middle of the city. But on the few occasions when I rode it, it was blissful. The best road trip I didn’t take was a journey up to North Carolina for a medical EMT training test. It was Summer; it was glorious; it was curving mountain roads. I was in my car, or my mom’s car, or some vehicle that wasn’t my bike. My bike sat at home. I bowed to parental pressure and did not ride my bike. Even though I was well into my twenties. I still regret that non-ride and allowing other people’s fears to sway me.
The bike (and the boyfriend) receded into memory.
My uncle had a motorcycle and I rode with him a couple times. His was a massive machine that I couldn’t even contemplate driving.
When I was in high school, a bad boy-friend and I skipped school and rode up to Talullah Gorge on a motorcycle. We had to sit in a laundromat wrapped in gross towels given to us by the kind woman who took pity on two shivering under-clad idiots who got caught in a chilly rain storm while our clothes dried.
Women on motorcycles are hot. Everyone knows that. Men aren’t bad either. Boots, denim, leather. Not hot is covering up head to toe in protective gear and being safe. Then you kind of look (and feel) like Robo-cop or something.
The only piece of pornography I ever wrote involved a motorcycle.
I will never have a motorcycle.
But I may have a scooter again.
Pros: Hundreds if not thousands of people ride scooters around town In Atlanta. Scooters get excellent gas mileage. Insurance is surprisingly cheap. I know every back road in about half of the metro area and never need go on Ponce or DeKalb or other scary streets. It’s fun.
Cons: You are vulnerable. Very vulnerable. Other drivers are idiots. You are vulnerable. Sometimes you are an idiot. You are vulnerable.
There is an old adage about motorcycle riders: You have either had your wreck or you haven’t had it yet.
But the real calculated risk has to do with fear and how you live your life. There are a million ways to die, many of them gruesome and unexpected. There are things you can do to enhance your risk of dying: drugs, cliff diving, trying to pet lions, riding motorcycles… But we will all die in some way and at the end of the day, what have you not done out of fear? I don’t do drugs, cliff dive, try to pet lions, and I don’t ride a motorcycle. But I do want to ride a scooter around town. I know there are risks but there are risks to getting in the car every day. There are probably a million things I haven’t done out of fear – some of them prudent, some of them because I am a mother and my kids would like to have me around, some of them because I am simply afraid. But in this instance, I am calculating my risk vs fear ratio. And though I have a million reasons to justify getting a scooter (environment, cost of gas, cheap) the real reason is because I want one. And I’m not going to let fear stop me.
So scoot commute 2014, here I come!