Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Tuesday, February 7, 2006

The Cayman Net News is doing an article on Scooters and approached me with some questions to help them along with it. With most of what I said going to end up on the editing room floor, here's the full reply I sent them

How long have I been scooting?
I rode a little  when I was younger, but "this time around" I've been
scooting in Cayman for about 4 months.

Why did I choose a scooter over a car?
The benefits of a scooter outweighed the drawbacks. I still have a car
and use it when I'm not commuting to and from work.

What about potential risk on the road from motorists?
That was definately on my mind during the process of deciding to buy
one. It's hard enough driving on this island what with all the people
not paying attention, eating, drinking, talking on their cellphones,
putting on makeup or all of the above. Throw in a smaller two-wheeler
with less protection (than being surrounded by a couple tons of steel)
and it was a major concern. Like any risk though, it's able to be
managed. Vigilance and defensive driving... Something everyone,
two-wheeled or four-wheeled, could benefit from brushing up on.

Have you had close encounters with other motorists?
I've had one or two moments that caused some puckering, but none that
have made my life flash before my eyes...yet. Remember that there are
two types of riders: those who have layed a bike down while underway,
and tho who haven't... yet. :) There's only been one instance where
someone purposely moved to block me as I went past them in traffic.
(you know who you are, asshole -Ed)

Name some hints for would be scooter riders/purchasers?
Do your homework. You get what you pay for. All the usual things that
apply to any major purchase, whether it's a big-screen tv, a condo, a
house, a car or in this case, a scooter. Take into account
availability of parts & service. You might save some money by going
with a cheaper scooter to start with, but if it's parked in the garage
waiting on parts from Japan (cars) or China (scooters) then it's
really not of any benefit to you. Have a baseline to compare your
scooter to. Keep track of what kind of mileage you're getting in your
car, and compare that to what you would get on a scooter. Keep track
of how long it takes you to get to work and home again, and put a
price on your time. Is it worth it to you to have an extra hour per
day to spend with friends/family/your hobby? Most importantly, once
you're on a scooter, use your common sense, use your eyes and ears,
and don't expect anyone else around you to do what you think they
should do... because invariably they'll do the opposite.

What sections of the public stand to benefit more from riding scooters?
Anyone living in West Bay! ha! :) Anyone who works downtown where
parking space is at a premium, anyone who runs a lot of errands around
town during the day. People who drive to work and then don't even need
their car til 5:00 are all perfect candidates for a scooter. People
who are conscious of the environment and people who are disgusted that
ExxonMobil and Chevron made $50 BILLION dollars in PROFIT in 2005
while everyone else has had to squeak by. Those people might be more
fond of hybrids, hydrogen or bio-diesel, but every little bit helps :)

Does the price justify the differences in purchasing a car?
I dont have averages handy, but last year after the Hurricane I was
shopping for a new-to-me car on one of the Japanese Used Car websites.
The prices for  vehicles that I was looking at were about $4000US
before duty & shipping. I did end up buying a car back then, and I did
pay $4000 for it. Even though it's only a 4 cyl engine, I would burn
through about $30 in gas per week. The scooter I bought was $4000CI,
and I go through about $4.50 per week in gas. That means it's going to
take me 160 weeks to see a return on my investment, if I only counted
the price of fuel in that equation.

What the price of insuring and licence and who that compares with a car?
Insurance is another matter. When I brought my Jeep in, it was $50 for
new plates, $25 for inspection, $160 for the registration for a year
and $1150 per year for just liability insurance (before no-claims
discount) The scooter on the other hand, was $100 for the year for
registration and $250 for insurance. The insurance actually goes down
to $190 or so if you have a full motorcycle license, $250 is for a
provisional license. I had to get a provisional again since my old
motorcycle license had lapsed.

If you factor in the difference in rents between say, Spotts or West
Bay compared with George Town, South Sound or Seven Mile Beach, the
the ROI is a lot shorter, by allowing you to live further out of town
for cheaper rent, and still not have to deal with an hour or more's
traffic every day. That leads to monetizing your "quality of life" and
that's going to be different for every person.

Aside from the cold facts about "getting your money's worth" and
whatnot, it's fun to ride. On the "google ads" on the side of this
page was this link to WiseGeek.com which
has some more good background info on scooters in general. A Google
News
search on $g("Geely") or on $g("Vespa") will turn up lots of hits,
respectively.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006 11:20:09 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Scooter#
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