Tue 31 Jul 2007
A Global Transportation Solution
Thanks to Motorscooter Muse
Cheap and fuel efficient transportation “available in all states but California”
Around the country commuters are finding what Europe, Asia, much of the world has already discovered, that the cheapest form of private transportation to acquire and to drive is the motorscooter, moped, or small motorcycle. The smaller street-legal motorscooters sell for as little as $800 and, in many states, that is the extent of the investment as no licensing, insurance, nor registration is required. One may become a mobile commuter for much less than a month’s wages in a vehicle that will handle daily commuting and may use as little as a couple of gallons of fuel per month. This is not the case in California, however, where
regulation of licensing, registration, insurance requirements and, above all, California Air Resources Board (CARB) approval requirements of cheaper vehicles are mind-bogglingly excessive. The Internet world of online scooter sales is full of cautionary notices stating “Legal in all states but California” or some variant thereof.
California’s Ecological Conundrum
California’s abysmal public transportation system makes commuting by private vehicle utterly obligatory for many. Even where public transportation is available, it would not have the capacity to handle the tiniest percentage of commuting needs if even a fraction of private-vehicle commuters made the switch. Californians are well wedded to freedom and individual transport, and far too many of them are driving SUVs or similarly egregiously wasteful vehicles.
Calculating Motorscooter Economics
With gas prices on an intermittent but ultimately upward spiral, more and more commuters, however unecologically minded they might be, are inevitably considering the fuel-efficiency factorin their decisions on what to drive. The return on investment of a motorscooter (see Motorscooter ROI Calculator) is a compelling argument for the scooter commuter (but note that the scooters there listed are not California legal). The regulation impediments blocking the Californian from cheap scooter ownership are highly daunting and seriously erode the economic advantages of scooters with fees, higher prices, and DMV rigmarole (See California DMV entry on Motorcycle Licensing).
CARB Creates Impediments to the Spread of Eco-Friendly Vehicles
There is no bigger obstacle to the proliferation of fuel-efficient vehicles in California than the California Air Resources Board. It is certainly ironic that CARB regulations, designed as they are to combat pollution, are serving instead to perpetuate it. It is almost certain that, if mass migration from gasguzzling to more refined gas-sipping vehicles is to take place, it will be through the availability and proliferation of highly economical alternative vehicles — transportation choices almost everyone can afford, and can even afford to experiment with on a temporary or ancillary basis by adding another vehicle rather than replacing one. Regulation is responsible for the fact that many cheaper scooters are simply not legally sold in California, and those that are are more expensive than they would otherwise be, due to the expense of, and time required by the CARB approval process.
Disadvantages of Scooting in California
It must be admitted that California, with its freeway systems, is not moped friendly (the term “moped” is often used to refer to the smaller 50cc, or minimalist non-freeway motorscooters. See Mopeds Defined.) Besides requiring license, registration, and insurance not required in other states, mopeds, 50cc, or minimalist scooters are, understandably, prohibited on freeways. Larger motorscooters are freeway legal however, and many commutes, particularly during rush-hour, are faster using surface streets. Also, though not necessarily a recommended practice, “lane-splitting” is specifically permitted in California. Together with motorcycles, scooters may proceed between lanes when car traffic has stopped or is creeping along. Lane splitting is permissible if done in a safe and prudent manner according to the California Highway Patrol (http://www.chp.ca.gov/html/motors.html).
Motorscooter Parking Issues
Two-wheeled vehicles require far less parking space than do even compact cars. Unfortunately, few parking lots in California are specifically provided with parking for motorcycles, leaving the scooterist with the choice of occupying a full-sized slot, taking a chance on parking with the bicycles, or entering the gray-area of using wasted spaces at the ends of rows that are too small for cars (See Scooter Parking Issues). In some places, Lancaster PA, for example where the Mayor rides a scooter (See Do you ‘scooter‘ to job? Park free at city garage), active efforts have been made to encourage scootering by providing special, free parking facilities. Of course, were two-wheeled vehicles to become more common, the space-economy advantages of parking scooters would be more universally recognized and more accommodation would be made.
Steps Toward an Eco-Friendly California
California vehicular transportation has to change. Public transportation, even if used to capacity, would be inadequate and is definitely not in tune the the California psyche. Two-wheeled vehicles are one possible solution of many but definitely the one adopted by much of the rest of the world and the one we at Motorscooter Muse are very enthusiastic about.
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