In 1979, Quadrophenia, based on the Who’s rock opera album, was the story of a clash of wills between the Mods and the Rockers. A machine that was featured prominently in the film was the main character’s scooter that was a Lambretta LI-50. It was souped up with headlights and prepared for cultural battle with the rockers. Quadrophenia renewed the scooter as an icon and even thirty years later, Vespa, Italian for ’wasp’, retailed a Quadrophenia inspired scooter with a fur seat to boot. Needless to say, sales of scooter spiked after the release of the film. Scooters have always been a popular icon in European films and on its streets since the 1940s. However, Europe is more ensconced in an urban culture emphasizing dense populations that lends itself to the use of scooters. The same is true for countries thoughout Asia, where the scooters is an affordable motor vehicle that can be used for reasonable transportation. But, there is a new growing interest in the usage of scooters in American urban areas and in Phoenix in particular. One only has to walk around the downtown area of Phoenix for a few blocks before they see a scooter parked on the sidewalk or zipping south on 7th Street. This might seem like another facet of the urban Hipster lifestyle along with PBR and Indian Spirit cigarettes, while listening to The Decemberists on their I-Pod and carrying a copy of Infinite Jest. But, this is not the case at all, the scooter is a practical choice for a college student or a white-collar professional who lives close to work in The Valley.
Now that we are in the throes of “The Great Reset” and decreased lifestyles, consumers are searching for more efficient and cost-effective lifestyles that gives them a fresh sense of identity at the same time. Transportation is a major element of that choice. People are looking back on Hummer’s and SUV’s with a sense of shame and disappointment now that we are looking at increased gas costs and decreased supplies. The conversation is now turning to Walking Indexes, Bicycle Paths, and expanded public transportation. There is clearly an increase in the usage of scooters in Phoenix, because unlike Portland or Chicago, our climate is ideal for a scooter lifestyle. You can keep it parked outside without worrying as much about weather. But, it’s not unique to Phoenix either, nationwide there has been a dramatic increase in the sales of scooters over the last year. Among two-wheelers, scooters had a 50% increase in sales last year that was more than any other motorcycle according the Motorcyle Industry Council. Even Petersen Automotive Museum has an exhibition on the scooter in Los Angeles. It fits perfectly within any urban setting with reasonable usage. They are ideal for students and urbanites who have a small distance between their work, school, grocery store, and home. But, the ulimate reason to use a scooter is about saving money. There simply is no comparison between the scooter and an automobile. Depending on the product that you buy, uou can get between 75 to a 100 miles per gallon on a Honda scooter. There is even a growing supply of hybrid or pure electric scooters like the Bravo Evt that requires no gasoline, you plug it into an AC/DC outlet to charge it overnight and it’s ready to go. What is also nice about this EVT is that their motor runs below 50 cubic centimeters, so you don’t require a motorcyle license. However, any scooter that runs over that you will need a motorcycle license to operate it.
Beside a Harley Davidson culture, it may seem like a scooter is not the most macho vehicle to be saddling. We are not talking about going on some Easy Rider trek from Tuscon to Flagstaff. You wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, use a scooter to travel beyond a ten to fifteen mile radius as you could with a motorcycle. At the same time, a motorcycle is not ideal for an urban, or suburban, environment in that regard. A scooter not a “crotch rocket” that you use to burn sound waves down a thoroughfare on Central Ave. The scooter is not trying to be macho, it’s about being smart. It’s a cost-effective vehicle to be able to conduct day to day routines within a reasonable schedule. In short, you use your Honda, Vespa or EVT to save money, but have the mobility beyond what a bicycle or public transportation can get you. Plus, you do not have the downtown parking issues of an automobile. But, there are some caviats that the interested must be aware of with any machine. You have to be conscious of your environment when riding it and operate it with a clear head. Furthermore, this is not to say that commuters should stop driving cars, the scooter is additional option that can go along with the automobile, the bicycle, and public transportation when those options are not practical or affordable.