Thursday, 14 February 2008

Bloody scooters

I find myself developing a loathing of scooters and their riders.

I don’t mean that in a mods and rockers kind of way. Funnily enough proper scooterists, the guys who run old Lambrettas and Vespas, and bikers rub along quite happily these days.

They even turn up at the same rallies and shows, we pass them on the roads to the coast, playing a kind of group leap-frog as they pull over at the roadside one breakdown after another. There is a kind of respect for their perversity in choosing a vehicle that is so mechanically unsuitable for long distance riding.

The scooter riders I loathe are the hoards of non-riders in London who have taken to two wheels to avoid the congestion charge and the horrors of public transport.

On the road they are a liability. Perhaps because they are supposedly easy to ride ‘twist and go’ machines, it is assumed that no training or skill is required. Or fucking common-sense either. So I constantly find them overtaking on the inside, cutting me up and generally entrenching the already homicidal feelings of four wheel users towards anyone on two.

It gets worse when they come to park.

Despite the massive increase in scooters, the London boroughs have not increased the number of bike-parks as this would mean turning over car parking spaces and losing revenue. So bikes and scooters are jammed in solid next to each other in the few bike-parks available. The scooters have no prop stands, and this along and with the engine over the rear-wheel, means they often can take up as much width as the heaviest touring bike.

The riders have no sense of biking etiquette or camaraderie: Four times now I’ve come back to my bike to find it damaged by scooters jammed in solid alongside it. I’ve had my speedo smashed, a mirror cracked, my number-plate broken in half and now scratches put down the side of my exhaust. And never once a note of apology or contact details left. On the other-hand I damaged a bike I was parked alongside last year. I felt mortified and obligated to do the right the thing. It cost me about £200 and a bottle of Jack Daniels, but I would expect any other biker to do the same in return.

Why don’t these tossers just learn to ride and get themselves a little trail bike for the city? Or better still, stay on the bus?

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