rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 04/23/2008
Scooter the Planet! How riding a scooter makes $ense and reduces your carbon-footprint.
by Jim Phelps

Scooters are fun.  Really, really fun.  Really, really, really fun to ride.

Here is what helps most folks to take up Scooterin’ the Planet for real; helping stop global climate change.

You will save beaucoup bucks… while helping the planet’s ever-enlarging climate issues while also reducing your carbon footprint.

Here is the skinny on Scooter ownership in Illinois.  Anything that is 50cc, that is 50 cubic centimeters engine size or less, you can ride on a public road marked at 35 MPH or less, you are required to have a normal driver’s license without a motorcycle endorsement.   Anything larger, you are considered a motorcycle and need a motorcycle endorsement.

Most people don’t know the difference between a scooter and a moped.  It is simple.  If the motor is “pedal” assisted… it’s a moped.  Most mopeds only have a 50cc engine.  Scooters can be purchased with a motors ranging in size from 50cc to 650cc in the U.S.  Scooters and Mopeds have automatic transmissions so you won’t have to learn how to use a clutch and shift gears manually.

It is not hard to make your license in Illinois.  All you have to do is go either to a Motorcycle Safety Course sponsored by Motor Cycle Safety Foundation and the State of Illinois or take the written test and riding course at your local Secretary of State, Licensing Facility. 

I suggest that your take the Motorcycle Safety Course. It will cost you $20.  You will the proper handling of a Motorcycle and learn many useful techniques to ride safely.  The emphasis is on defensive riding.  20 dollars well spent.  As a bonus to other Scooterists and Motorcyclists… at the end of the course you can elect to return the money to the state fund that provides funding for this program - allowing others to learn to ride.

In my case, I haven’t had an endorsement for about 15 years.  And I rode a lot of road miles using much higher powered motorcycles.  I was lucky because I took a couple of motorcycle safety classes and a motorcycle racing school.  It was like riding a bike for the first time in 15 years… you don’t forget.

My course instructors were experienced motorcyclists.  Their no nonsense approach to the course helped everyone from beginning riders to those more experienced.  It was well worth the weekend of classroom and riding work.

So, why would I, an experienced Motorcyclist ride an underpowered scooter when I could choose to ride a much bigger motorcycle?

The rational is simple: Cost of ownership.

You can buy a well made Chinese Scooter, shipped to your door for around a $1000.

Really.  True price.  Registration, Title and Insurance…will run you around $200 a year.

Think of the all the gas you will save.

Here is my real world example:

I have a 1989 S-10 pickup truck.  It gets around 22 MPG in the city.  A 20 gallon tank lasts me around 12 to 14 days of driving before I need to fill up.  A real gas hog compared to a Scooter.

My 150cc Scooter gets around 80 to 90 MPG.  Let’s call it 85 MPG for our calculation.

Here goes the math:  My S-10 will get 440 Miles per tank.  A tank will last 12 to 14 days of city driving.

My Scooter will get more 100 miles to the tank… small tank, about 1.4 gallons.

This means that if I do not drive my S-10 during the summer, I can fuel my Scooter for about 1700 miles for what it cost to fill the truck. 

1700 miles for what it cost to fill the truck’s gas tank once!

That is about 4 months of commuting back and forth to work for the price of 12 to 14 days of driving the truck.

Riding my scooter during the summer is a no-brainer!

I am simultaneously reducing my Carbon-Footprint while Saving Big Dollars.

And that is good for everyone!

Scooter the Planet!!

~ Jim Phelps is one of the owners of Phoenix Traders, a fair trade importer and retailer on 7th Street in Rockford.  The other owner will be taking her Motorcycle Safety Course in May…

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