Previously I showed some charts that indicate motorcycling (and scootering) are increasingly popular. (https://scooterfan.wordpress.com/2007/09/27/fun-with-charts/) Here’s my personal story about getting Neela. (Neela Kashika is my scooter’s name.)
2005: Parking at OSU was expensive, so I was mostly using my car to drive to the bus stop, and then take the bus into campus. My S.O. (significant other) and I each had a car. I was intrigued by scooters but had never taken the time to really check them out.
Summer 2006: Al Gore’s movie comes out. I went to see it after work, and I liked it. The end of the movie (if you haven’t seen it, go!) lists ways you can take action to help mitigate global climate change. I felt guilty though, because due to our schedules both me and S.O. had driven our car there. (We tried to carpool but it just wouldn’t work.) Leaving we were just going to drive our cars home, to the same place. How great for the environment! Funny thing- on the way home S.O. car dies, turns out it’s basically toast. (Seriously. How ironic is that?)
So now we are a 1-car household. Getting to my summer job was a good 40 minute bike-ride away from my house. The bus wouldn’t take me straight there, that would still involve some walking on both ends.
Would it have been do-able to walk/bike to get to the summer job? Hell yea! Was I up for the challenge? No. Yes, I realize all COTA buses have bike racks and I could’ve done a combination route. (Bike 15 minutes to bus stop. Bus comes once an hour, so schedule it accordingly. Ride bus for about 5 minutes. Get off, bike 5 minutes to work.) I realize now I should’ve researched an electric bike more thoroughly.
No showers at work, trying to make a good impression, and I did wear business casual. Yes, I realize I could get a ride, and I actually did that for several weeks. That was a big ole pain, not the least because my ride dropped me off before the building was open to me – a lowly intern with less “clearance.”
My point is if you really want to do something, you will do it. I really did not want to bike to work every day. I was, however, happy to scooter to work every day, even in the rain. While I lost out on the exercise, I did arrive to work unsweaty. On rain-less hot days I just changed my shirt and was good to go. (Now I would wear more gear and change more things, but it would still be do-able.) On rainy days I used to need a full change of clothes, BUT with new gear (pretty much waterproof) now I wouldn’t get soaked.
Unfortunately most urban areas in the U.S. have sprawling/suburban land patterns. When trying to get people to make changes, it is easier to get them to buy a scooter (or electric bike or a plain old bike) than to sell their house (or condo) and move to a denser part of town. (Of course this is not true for all people.) If people just have an apartment, it will be easier, but even then many people will not like changing or can not change their work commute. Unfortunately many jobs are no longer located in the urban core, where public transit routes are focused. I’m too tired to find real sources for all of this*, but if you think about it – it makes sense.
With Neela I can get from home to OSU in the same amount of time I can in a car. Parking at OSU is waaaay easier with a scooter than with a car, and much cheaper too. So while I still took the bus to get to campus/work, I had a second option of taking the scooter.
If you like thinking/talking about this kind of stuff, consider a job (and/or degree) in planning. AKA Urban planning, city planning, regional planning, city and regional planning, etc. If you are in Columbus, check out OSU’s master’s in planning at http://knowlton.osu.edu/default.asp?content=19 (Just ignore the super atrocious web site design.) If you are elsewhere in the U.S., check this out http://www.planning.org/educationcenter/planningdegrees.htm
* Yay! It’s just a website posting and not a term paper.