Motorcycles have long had a rebel image associated with it – and even scooters in NY are, to some extent, part of a non-establishment counter-culture. Your grandmother wouldn’t like the idea of you riding either… People think of two wheeled vehicles as suitable only for pot smoking daredevils or badass biker boys. And unfortunately there are many of those – along with many who just want to dress the part… Nevertheless I’d like to propose something very different…I propose that motorcycles (and scooters) are actually the most responsible form of personal transportation available…for at least the following reasons:
First, motorcycles and scooters use less fuel than even today’s most advanced hybrids! At around 60mpg for my sportbike and 100 mpg for scooters they use less fuel than than a Toyota Prius. It does this even though the scooter is carburated – meaning it would be possible to get even better fuel economy. It also contributes less to landfills and does not contain toxic substances (the way electric car batteries do). If you were really serious about the environment and gas prices, you would support the two wheeled vehicle industry…
But aren’t Motorcycles Dangerous?
Yes, and more difficult to learn to drive… But (my second reason is) motorcycles and scooters are also less likely to hurt others in an accident: Drive drunk on a Harley and you will wind up in a ditch somewhere. Drive drunk in an automobile and you will most likely put yourself and other people in the ditch with you. Now you shouldn’t be driving drunk to begin with, but the point is the danger is to yourself not others. Automobiles make the driver safer, but everyone else is put at greater risk. SUVs extend that logic by making its own passengers safer (riding higher) while putting smaller automobile riders (and everyone else) at greater risk… That’s a pretty crappy thing to do in the name of safety! This type of logic in the automobile industry (unfortunately) encourages aggressive and irresponsible driving – whereas motorcycles (to the sane and gainfully employed) logically encourages greater caution rather than predatory behavior on the street… For the motorcyclist, crashing into another vehicle is not considered an option – whereas automobile drivers are too often willing to take that risk.
What about Traffic?
Third, motorcycles and scooters cause less traffic. Traffic increases the environmental/political/economic problems of oil consumption. It takes me 5 minutes to get cross town (on 66th) on two wheels in the morning. It takes from 20-40 minutes (at worst) to make the same trip in a car during rush hour. And while I’m sitting in traffic in my car, I am adding to the traffic problem – not to mention oil consumption… Even if you’re in a Hybrid that doesn’t consume fuel when it’s not moving, by adding to the traffic problem you are causing the cars and trucks behind you to use more fuel, emit more CO2, etc…
And last but not least…Parking
Motorcycles and scooters need less space for parking. Parking is a problem in NY. But two wheel vehicles can make the best of every square foot. Just look at the photo above – that space between the parking meter and the fire hydrant is unused space that more than two bikes could use… Now imagine if there were dedicated motorcycle/scooter parking areas the way there is in London…and people took advantage of that, NY wouldn’t need congestion pricing.
What do you have against cars?
I am not saying cars are bad – we love cars! …Especially in the rain or cold or when I need to dress up… It is the more comfortable way to travel (I can listen to the radio and drink my coffee and zone out). And some people need to drive a car (I can’t drive my Grandma anywhere on a scooter). But those citybikers who ride to work are doing everyone a service! Using less fuel, causing less traffic, causing less risk to the overall population, and allowing for more street parking. The city and automobile drivers ought to be grateful.
One more thing: “Why can’t you people just take the Buses and Subways?”
This isn’t a bad question actually – but if everyone who drives a car decided to take mass transit tomorrow, the current overtaxed transit system would grind to a halt. Subways are part of what make NY great, but they’re not suitable all the time for every situation. Think of all the families with young children, elderly or handicapped… Not only that but mass transit does not go everywhere (especially outside of Manhattan) in a timely manner… I used to take the subway two hours each way from the Bronx to Forest Hills Queens in jam packed subways. When I took the same trip during off hours, it would take just as long because the trains would run less frequently. Working mothers and fathers (and, heck! Anyone with a life) should not need to spend four hours a day in order to travel a mere 15 miles if they don’t want to. But if you happen to live on the island (which is too expensive for many), and never leave Manhattan, then “no” you really don’t need to drive a car or a bike…but should you choose to, a motorcycle or scooter is STILL a more socially responsible way to travel.