Scooters Relieve the Gas Price Pain

Soon some scooter riders won't even have to go to the gas station. Metter, of New York Motorcycle, said consumers should be on the lookout for electric scooters, a potential alternative to their gas-powered relatives.

Scooter owners join motorcyclists at a rally in New York for an annual Ride To Work Day event.

"They're just starting to emerge," he said. "Zero gas. Zero pollution. It's like an appliance. You can park it on the carpet and not worry about oil dripping."

Scooter Selection

Vespa, Honda and Yamaha all offer scooters that range in price from roughly $2,000 to more than $8,000 while Suzuki scooters start at $6,000.

Color enthusiasts have their pick, ranging from Vespa's "Daring Plum" and "Excalibar Gray" to Honda's red "Monza" and blue-and-white "Ocean" designs.

"Scooters rate very high on the stylish scale," Mount said.

But if gas savings are your number one criterion, you'll have to do some digging. Most scooter Web sites don't advertise miles per gallon. Yamaha does and, according to the maker, results vary depending on road conditions, how a scooter is driven and maintained, cargo load and operator weight.

One of Yamaha's most fuel-efficient scooters, the Zuma, costs $2,199 and can travel 123 miles per gallon.

Local scooter shops are seeing an increase in sales after the rise of gas prices.

Scooter Safety

Some scooter owners say they can't give up on their cars completely. Chris White and his family own four scooters, but said they still need their SUV to tow their trailer or when they need seating for groups as large as eight.

Bad weather, however, is one obstacle they've managed to surmount.

"I invested in cheap rain gear and covers so unexpected weather is not an issue," White said.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, it's good idea to invest in other gear too – the kind that keeps you safe. An estimated 7,244 people suffered scooter-related injuries last year, the commission reports.

It recommends scooter riders wear helmets, knee pads and elbow pads to avoid injury.

Other scooter riding safety tips from the commission:

Wear sturdy shoes

Avoid gravel and uneven pavement, which can cause falls.

Don't ride scooters at night — riders can't see where they're going or be seen by others.

Mount recommended that riders wear bright colors.

"Conspicuity is key," he said.

Helmets provide extra security to riders sharing the road with automobiles.

Each state has different restrictions and procedures for scooters or mopeds. In some cases, motorcycle training and tests are required. In others, all you need is a regular motor vehicle license.

Scooters that have engine sizes exceeding 50 cubic centimeters and travel 30 miles per hour or higher require a motorcycle license.

Contact your state's motor vehicles office for details.

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