The availability of amenities, a reasonable level of safety, appropriate riding weather, and the presence of other scooters all contribute to a positive scooting environment.
Of course, it’s possible to be a safe and happy scooterist even if you’re the only one in town, there’s no designated scooter parking, and the nearest repair shop is a day’s drive away. But the more scooter-friendly the area where you live is, the easier and more fun owning and riding your scooter will be.
Here are some of the characteristics of a scooter friendly city. See how your town stacks up.
- Scooter Parking
You need accessible parking to keep your scooter safely tucked away while you’re out and about. Public garages that allow scooter parking are a plus – bonus points if they reduce the fee for cycles or let you park free! And if your city has designated on-street scooter and motorcycle parking like San Francisco and Seattle, you win.
- Scooter service and repair
When you need to bring your scooter in to be serviced or repaired, the closer the shop is the better. If there’s no repair facilities for 200 miles, you’ll need a way to get your non-running scooter there.
- Scooter retailers
Granted, you can buy pretty much anything online, but your town gets a bonus if there’s a scooter retail presence – whether selling scooters, riding apparel, or even just topcases and tires.
If your geographic area boasts a year-round riding season, congratulations! Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, using the phrase “riding season” gets you openly mocked in some scootering circles. Our mild – though wet! – winters make for year-round scooting. Rain is easy enough to ride in, once you learn proper safety techniques and get good rain gear, a windscreen, and all-weather tires.
Most areas provide a manageable riding season, even if it’s only a few months. You can still ride a scooter in upstate New York – just don’t plan on it being your primary mode of transportation in January. (Trust me – you don’t want to be on two wheels in the snow!)
Some people ride in sub-freezing temperatures if there’s no precipitation. I’m not one of them. Invisible black ice will take you down effortlessly, and it’s not worth the risk.
If the trees in your area lose their leaves seasonally, keep that in mind as well. Damp leaves are slick as ice and can be disastrous on two wheels. As always, I speak from highly personal experience.
If your area of residence does not offer year-round riding, make sure you have someplace to store your scooter off-season. When I lived in Boston, I packed my scoot away late November until April. Learn good wintering techniques so your scooter is ready to go after the thaw.
Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I’ll move to San Diego. I’d have to leave the Frankenstella behind though since California’s not a fan of two-stroke engines.
- Available scooter safety courses
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has a presence in most major cities. Kudos to your city if it’s one of them.
- Clear laws for two-wheelers
If your local laws are clear on how scooters should be treated, everyone is safer. Cars need to know if and when you get your own lane. You need to know if you’re expected to have a cycle endorsement on your driver’s license, and where it’s legal to park.
- Manageable Crime Risk
All cities have some degree of crime. But if theft and vandalism are so rampant in your area that you’re afraid to leave your scooter unattended, riding on a daily basis will become an anxious affair. I’ve had a scooter stolen twice in Boston, and malicious tagging ruined several neighbors’ scooters parked on my block in Seattle, but I still consider both cities “scooter friendly.”
- Other scooters on the road
It’s true that there is safety in numbers! If you notice a lot of scooters on the road where you live, it’s probably a decent place to ride. A large scooter presence also means two-wheelers are not a foreign concept to cars, making the roads a little safer for everyone.
- Active scooter clubs
A town with one or more scooter clubs is truly an evolved place to live! Your local scooter club provides a wealth of knowledge, support, resources, and opportunities for community.
When it comes to scooting, how does your city measure up? If you live in scooter central, plug into the community and take advantage of all it has to offer. If your town is lacking in scooter amenities and community, here’s your chance to start spreading the word about scooters and get your town on the path to scooter paradise.