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Archive for Sunday, September 2, 2007

Scooters a popular transportation choice for economic reasons and fun

September 2, 2007

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Tom Cox, a KU senior from Shawnee, Kan., who rides his scooter to classes, said he is applying the information he learned in a motorcycle safety course to riding his scooter.

Tom Cox, a KU senior from Shawnee, Kan., who rides his scooter to classes, said he is applying the information he learned in a motorcycle safety course to riding his scooter.

Kansas University freshman Julian Myers, of Lebanon, Ore., sets off on his scooter Friday on the KU campus.

Kansas University freshman Julian Myers, of Lebanon, Ore., sets off on his scooter Friday on the KU campus.

Scooter Safety

Julian Myers, 25, Lebanon, Oregon, shares what he likes about his scooter and a quick safety tip. Myers' driver's license is suspended, but he is able to drive a scooter with a moped driver's license. Enlarge video

Riding on a scooter gives Ruth Lichtwardt a sense of freedom that she would take over a car trip any day.

"It's the closest thing to flying you can do on the ground," the 48-year-old Lawrence resident said.

She has driven scooters since 1983.

Currently, she has a Honda Metropolitan that she uses to get up the hills to the Kansas University Union bookstore where she works, to her home near Lawrence Memorial Hospital and downtown.

Lichtwardt doesn't take any chances on the road, but that wasn't always the case. When she started driving scooters, she never wore a helmet.

"When I had my previous scooter, I didn't use to (wear a helmet) at first and I had a couple of minor accidents like flipping on sand," she said. "It made me realize how vulnerable one's head is, so I got a motorcycle-grade helmet."

Now, you could call her a model scooter driver. She wears a helmet, drives defensively and has a motorcycle license, which isn't required for driving a scooter or other motorized vehicles with an engine capacity less than 130 cubic centimeters, but is recommended for learning the rules of driving on two wheels.

While the benefits of the increasingly popular motorized scooters may be obvious, such as high gasoline mileage, the laws surrounding them may be more vague, and safety on the road is always an issue, Lichtwardt said.

The name scooter is often used interchangeably with mo-ped, but by definition, a mo-ped has a pedal start engine. In Kansas, the Department of Motor Vehicles uses the name mo-ped, but motorized scooters fall under the definition of "motorized bicycles." The department requires the mo-ped or scooter to have a motor that doesn't produce more than 3.5 horsepower, a cylinder capacity less than 130 cubic centimeters and a design speed that can't go more than 30 mph. If the vehicle's cylinder capacity is more than 130 cubic centimeters, it is considered a motorcycle.

For a scooter in Kansas:

¢ Registration is required and costs about $20. Kansas University also requires a parking fee and registration for mo-peds, which is about $20 for each.

¢ Owners must have motor vehicle liability insurance coverage.

¢ All drivers must wear eye protection.

¢ Drivers must be at least age 15.

¢ Drivers under age 18 must wear a helmet. Mike Degraw, owner of Subsonic Scooters, 624 N. Second St., said "it's crazy helmets aren't required." He said he practically forces them on people or gives them away.

¢ A driver's license or a moped operator's license is required.

Scooters offer transportation solutions to people whose driver's licenses have been revoked, except for those who have a DUI.

Julian Myers, 25, a KU freshman from Lebanon, Ore., has had his license suspended for three years. He was caught driving without insurance and then caught three times for driving with a suspended license. He drove a bicycle around for a while, but "that's a lot of work," he said. He bought his scooter in February and has about six months left on his suspension, but he said he plans to continue riding his scooter.

He lives near the intersection of Iowa and Sixth streets and said he's had to learn to be aware of other cars because he's worried other drivers aren't aware of him.

Lichtwardt drives defensively, too.

"I've seen a lot of cars that act as though you aren't there," she said. "They pass you in the same lane; some of them may not see you. I believe that the most common motorcycle accident is cars that turn into motorcycles in the turning lane."

Jae Laderth, co-owner of Fineline Cars and Bikes in North Lawrence, 1001 N. Third St., advises customers to pretend they are invisible on the road.

"Imagine what a car would do if you weren't there," he said.

He also suggests they take the motorcycle license test at the DMV, which is about a mile north of his store in the former Tanger Outlet Mall, 1035 N. Third St. To receive a motorcycle license, drivers must pass a written exam and obstacle skill test. The obstacle course includes a course weave, slow balance, quick stop and obstacle turn.

"People who ride scooters have to be responsible," Laderth said. "They have to worry about everyone else on the road."

Comments

OnlyTheOne 6 years, 12 months ago

And the photo of Julian Meyers shows much of what's wrong with scooter riders: No helmet, soft non-protective shoes, a large bulky (and probably heavy) backpack to help throw him off balance, no arm or hand protection, it appears he's wearing sunglasses I doubt they have non-breakable lenses which are required.

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chewyfally 6 years, 12 months ago

"I believe that the most common motorcycle accident is cars that turn into motorcycles in the turning lane."

That's exactly how I was hit on my scooter! And seriously, wear a helment. I know people who "think it looks stupid." That's just ridiculous! If passengers on my scooter refuse to wear the helmet, they don't get a ride.

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jayhawklawrence 6 years, 12 months ago

Had moped in front of me and pulling out onto 6th street (40-45 miles per hour speed zone). The rider somehow did not want to go over 15-20 miles per hour. I see this as a very dangerous situation for everyone concerned. I also thought the rider could care less about anyone else.

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mick 6 years, 12 months ago

Whatever happened to those "segways" that were supposed to take over the world? Same thing as kohoutek I guess.

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pissedinlawrence 6 years, 12 months ago

jayhawklawrence, Where on 6th street is there a 45 per hour speed zone??

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alm77 6 years, 12 months ago

pissed - starting at Monterey Way (by the HyVee) continuing on west.

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Keith 6 years, 12 months ago

Best advice I ever got for riding 2 wheels: You're invisible and everyone else is drunk.

Oh, and wear a helmet, if you think it looks stupid to wear one, just think how you'll look drooling while wearing your depends, or worse, how you'll look at your funeral.

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Sean Livingstone 6 years, 12 months ago

It's funny to know that you have to wear a safety helmet when riding your bicycle but not when riding a scooter or motorcycle?

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jayhawklawrence 6 years, 12 months ago

Alm- Thanks. That is exactly where it was.

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picod 6 years, 12 months ago

What do scooters and Fat girls have in common?? - - - - They're both fun to ride until your friends find out!!

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Oracle_of_Rhode 6 years, 12 months ago

Hey LJW, your so-called "scooter safety" video features a guy riding without a helmet. Pathetic.

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camper 6 years, 12 months ago

As Ruth stated, be careful of gravel and sand. If you are turning, while applying brakes, the scooter can literally turn over. Aslo assume that the other drivers are all on cell phones.

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zettapixel 6 years, 12 months ago

If you want to ride on two wheels, get a Harley!

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Scooter_Trash 6 years, 12 months ago

Pywacket, more motorcyclists are killed by inattentive drivers that turn left in front of the motorcycle (or scooter) than anything else. Just because you don't like motorcycles doesn't mean I can't ride one.

Hang up the phone and pay attention to what's going on around you.

As for the helmet people, you don't have to wear a helmet in this state to ride a motorcycle, bicycle, or scooter. It is up to the individual. They have to right to make that choice. Should they wear a helmet? Yes. Do I wear a helmet? Yes, every time I ride. Should I think the lawmakers need to make that choice for me? No.

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Janet Lowther 6 years, 11 months ago

Scooters are WAY too close to the ground.

Drivers in trucks & SUVs quite literally over look you.

On a full size motorcycle, you MIGHT be seen, but I had a friend years ago who had air horns and over 200,000 candlepower worth of lights on his full size BMW motorbike and he STILL had to hit the dirt with some frequency. Carried a spare set of valve covers with him all the time.

I had a Honda GL-500 that I rode over 10,000 miles and only got hit once, and that at a near stop. I was lucky.

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Oracle_of_Rhode 6 years, 11 months ago

jrlii (Anonymous) says:

Scooters are WAY too close to the ground.

Drivers in trucks & SUVs quite literally over look you.

-- Couldn't the counter argument to this be that trucks & SUVs are WAY too high off the ground?

If, as you say, these drivers can't see people on scooters, then they must miss kids, bicyclists, pedestrians, low sports cars and animals too. Plus they pollute and gobble gas from the Saudis that funds terrorists. Let's ban them all and make their drivers ride recumbent bicycles while wearing dunce caps.

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