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Calling All Moped and Scooter Riders

October 1, 2012

Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner – Founders Insurance Group

Anyone that follows this blog knows that I love motorcycles. It’s a love affair that dates back to the mid 1970’s. Each day on my walk home from the bus stop, back in the days when we actually walked to our school bus stop, I would walk past a blue a and black Suzuki 750. It was a very large bike in those days and I fell deeply in love. I would often fantasize about owning one just like it with the cutest girl in the class riding along with me on the open road. In the months leading up to my sixteenth birthday, I began dropping loud hints about my desire to buy a motorcycle as soon as I got my license. Growing up in a lower middle class household made that all but impossible. I shoveled snow, cut lawns, and worked two paper routes in order to save money toward a bike. As soon as I turned sixteen I took a job bagging groceries at a local supermarket to earn even more money toward this dream of mine. My parents however, had a very different point of view. They, like many parents were afraid of motorcycles, so much so that even to this day my mother has never ridden with me. In her fear, she concluded that a safe compromise would be to allow me to purchase a moped. Mopeds were all the rage in the latter part of the 1970’s as America’s gas prices had reached an all-time high and gas shortages and rationing were common. I took my “safe” moped all over the state of Connecticut.

Now that we have returned to four dollar per gallon gasoline, folks are again returning to mopeds and scooters as an alternative

Chris Garlasco on the Burr Trail in Utah.

form of transportation. My mother’s misconception that a moped was a safe alternative to a motorcycle is a misconception that seems to still be shared by many today. Here in the state of Connecticut, mopeds and small scooters (under 50cc’s) don’t require a motorcycle endorsement. Unlike larger scooters and motorcycles, the state doesn’t require any testing or training, and a standard driver’s license is all that is required. Connecticut allows motorcyclists the choice to wear a helmet or not and that includes inexperienced moped and scooter riders as well. I chose to wear a helmet but I do support the idea that the rider should be able to make that choice. The difference here is that the vast majority of moped and scooter riders appear to being making the choice not to wear head protection due to a false sense of security stemming from a misguided belief that the moped and small scooter is safer than the motorcycle. However each of those vehicles travels fast enough to cause a traumatic brain injury. Moped and scooter riders can often be seen wearing sandals, flip flops, shorts and often times no gloves or eye protection.

On the road, moped and small scooter riders can be seen making elementary mistakes and taking risks that can end in tragedy. As part of Connecticut’s well done rider training course, issues like these are covered in the course. The problem is that these riders slip through the cracks and receive no training on the road or in the classroom. A false sense of security combined with a lack of training can set the stage for disaster that could be avoided. I cannot say that my opinion speaks for the masses as it is just subjective, but it appears from some discussions that I have had with scooter riders that many opted for the scooter or moped because they felt that it was a much safer option than the motorcycle.

I loved my moped and it was the beginning of my lifelong love affair with two wheels. Whether it is a moped, a scooter or a motorcycle they are all good sources of transportation and can be great fun too! My message to those looking to enter the world of two wheel travel, regardless of the vehicle type, is that by making this choice we riders recognize that there are inherent risks in this form of travel. Knowing our machine and its limitations along with training and protection can help to lessen the additional risk that comes with riding on two wheels. I would also be remiss if I failed to mention that statistically the vast majority of accidents are the fault of the automobile operator. So be aware that all forms of bikes are out there and travel as if my life depended on it.

Have a great day and keep the shiny side up!

Chris Garlasco

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