It seems that most of the vintage photographs of scootering tend to be from the UK or elsewhere in Europe, rarely do you find classic photos of large groups of scooterists from here in the states. These spectacular photos are from some sort of protest taking place in San Francisco in the early 60’s. It’s also interesting to note how some things never change – there is always the broke down guy, the dorky guy, the cool guy, the lost guy, and broken leg guy. Nice work digging these up Voices of Anglia.
The Expired Meter posted about Chicago’s new motorcycle-friendly meter receipts, with a closing quote from some negative creep scooterist.
I actually checked them out after talking to The Expired Meter, they are a big improvement over the old adhesive receipts, and definitely better than the cheapo thermofax paper. We appreciate the effort from the city and LAZ, though my concern about theft still stands (not to mention the hundreds of other complaints people have about the whole parking meter operation in general.)
All that said, most meters have a very limited parking window anyway, so they’re not an option for commuters or overnight parking. And even though Chicago’s metered spaces seem to be growing exponentially, a Chicago Road Use Tax medallion allows you to park on a wealth of (unmetered) residential side streets without a neighborhood permit. Eventually, those will probably be metered as well, but for now, parking in the city is about as clear and hassle-free as it’s ever been.
In most middle-school shop classes, you’ll make golf-tee games or a footstool. In Tom Boissonnault’s “Technology” class at Eastchester Middle School, you’ll restore a Vespa. Best of all, it’s actually cheaper than Vietnamese child labor!
Several people have sent us the Denver Post story about Sportique’s financial woes. That’s certainly a sad story worth reading, and proof that even the best scooter dealers are in big trouble right now. Sportique’s been around for twelve years and certainly has a reputation equalled by only a handful of shops, so if they’re in trouble, we’re all in trouble.
A lot of fly-by-night scooter shops (and a few good ones) have already closed down, and many more will close in the next few months. This attrition of dealers is actually a good thing in one way: we’ll finally see fewer strip-mall dealers selling questionable or illegal bikes with virtually no aftersales support. Dealers that survive are the ones that know their stuff and love scooters. Anyone who’s been involved in scootering for more than a few years knows the market is brutally cyclical, but scooterists in the know hoped to see these “good guys” — great shops run by true scooter fanatics — survive. These shops aren’t bandwagon jumpers, they knew what they were getting into. They realize that a hemorrhage of sales can be replaced with chirping crickets in a matter of months. A few shops have been around since the eighties and have already been through the cycle. But even with vision and responsible planning, the triple whammy of the global recession, the end of a scooter-sales boom, AND the winter lull is proving too much to endure.
So this is a call to arms: if you like your local dealer, they need your support now more than ever. It just plain sucks to be a scooter dealer right now. So if you’ve been considering a new bike, or a performance upgrade, or a new jacket or helmet, or a rebuild, now’s the time to do it, and it’s more critical than ever to buy local and support the people that have supported you. Your dealer’s prices might be a bit higher than online or catalog prices, but they’ve worked hard for your business and chances are, they’re up against a wall. Your dealer needs you. Fewer dealers and fewer sales means fewer new scooter models being imported and fewer new scooterists, and reduced parts and accessories availabilty. If your local dealer closes, you may be stuck driving to the nearest big city (or the bigger city past that) for service and accessories. If importers start shutting down, you’re going to need to learn foreign languages to find parts.
If you’re new to scootering, 2008 was as big as it gets, but the lean years are great, too. A smaller scene separates the real life-long scooterists from the trendies, creates tighter bonds between scooterists, and paves the way for the next ‘boom.’ We’re going to lose some dealers, it’s a fact, but we MUST keep the best dealers going. With just a little boost from customers to survive these worst-case-scenario next few months, the best shops will eventually thrive, even through the lean years ahead.
Our friend and Corazzo owner Bradford Duval stepped down from the presidency of the VCOA a couple months ago (Mike Bobadilla of Vespa Club Los Gatos took his place, btw) but he’s putting his time into another great two-wheeled organization. The new United States Tourist Trophy Foundation is looking to send Alaskan Jimmy Moore to the Isle of Man TT in May/June. The backers of the USTTF feel Moore is the man destined to be the first American on the podium in the races’ history, and they need your help getting him (and his bikes) there. Read more at RoadRacerX.com.
When that’s done, Bradford, Eric Almendral and I need your help getting Silent Ron to Dakar on a Blur 220EFI next winter. Eric and I have a new years’ resolution to make Ron the first American to not kill himself in the desert of South America on a Taiwanese moped.
More ammo for your city council muckraking: USA Today looks at Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Columbus’ commitment to join San Francisco, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Cincinnati as scooter-friendly cities. (Thanks, Patrick, for reading USA Today so we don’t have to!)
In some delayed spring cleaning, French president Nicolas Sarkozy has made some changes in his cabinet and the nephew of former president Francois Mitterrand is now the new Minister of Culture and Communication. From what I gather of the French that’s probably a pretty big deal for domestic policy. Relevance here lies in that the Frédéric Mitterrand is a Scooterist. In both the BBC story and this video from Le Parisien the mode of transport is prominently noted. Good for you Mr. Mitterrand. Any Francophone readers are welcome to add any relevant translation from the video.
I love the idea of Seattle’s All-City Scooter Community Day. There are always a lot of rides and rallies in any major city, but we’re usually just enjoying ourselves and we rarely think of ways to engage the greater community. I keep thinking of ways it could be expanded: transportation forums, local government involvement, riding classes or demonstrations, rider education, and maybe even some community service… with a lot of planning and publicity, it seems like a terriffic way to promote scootering.
A couple days ago, we got some great feedback about our story refuting press reports about scooter emissions, notably Cecil Adams’ syndicatedThe Straight Dope column“Give a Scooter, Pollute Her.” The way Cecil framed the question left us doubting his conclusions, but we admitted there was something to his findings, and wondered about specific emissions figures.
Well, 2SB reader “JSH” tracked down some real numbers, and his comment was so thorough and insightful, we’ll just reprint the whole thing here:
Continue reading “Happy Earth Day! (2-Stroke Dope revisited)”
Chicago’s best Karaoke, Berryoke, is doing a benefit tonight at Frank and Mary’s for Patrick O’Dea’s nephew who was seriously injured in a auto/bicycle incident. If you’ve always loved karaoke but hated the music selection, check it out, the Berrys have everything good. Sorry for the late notice, I always put off posting local events until they get closer, then forget about it until the last minute.
There was a huge story/outrage brewing last month about a proposed U.S. import tariff on motorcycles designed to protest a European ban on U.S. beef. With our cruddy December, we never got the chance to write about how foolish it was, but luckily, it’s all moot now. it was rejected. This new government’s already looking better.
A sad farewell to hockey player/coach, pool hustler, old-west outlaw, parking-meter scofflaw, philanthropist, motorsports fan and team owner, and scooterist, Paul Newman. On top of all that, he made the best damn pretzel sticks known to mankind, and I’m not being glib. He was a great actor, and a great human being.
With all his superlative accomplishments in film, “Slap Shot” might not have been his most critically acclaimed movie, but what other film is so crass, funny, and ridiculous while being so well-acted, gritty and poignant? Hard times demand comedy, do yourself a favor and watch it soon.
NoZone magazine’s 100 Year Forecast is pretty right-on, funny, and well-designed.
Alix Bryan of P.E.A.C.E Scooter fame passed through Chicago while I was at Amerivespa. I’d hoped to meet her for dinner at a Korean restaurant Sunday night with some Modern Buddy folks, but I got back kind of late and some wires got crossed so I ended up eating with Ryan instead. Sorry Alix. We made this peace sign out of the banchan dishes, in your honor.
Alix got some news coverage in Cleveland the other day, and her months-long journey will end Friday (August 8, 2008) with a victory lap around the White House (a group ride leaves from Vespa Arlington at noon), then Scoot Richmond is hosting a party for her at 5pm on Saturday, featuring the final raffle drawing. Congratulations Alix!