Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Everywhere People are ridding Heres one story


When gas prices were hovering around $3, many drivers garaged their gas-gulping autos, preferring instead to take to the open road on two wheels. Year-round, Marion resident Susan Plater prefers her gas-sipping 2003 Honda Metropolitan motor scooter over her car any day.
"Although it gets approximately 100 miles per gallon, I mainly ride the scooter for my own enjoyment," said Plater, 58, an employee at Banterra Bank's drive-up window in downtown Marion.
The combination of chilling temperatures and gas prices in Marion dipping below the $2 mark have done little to deter Plater's preference for putting around town on her ride. Regardless of the weather, most days Plater rides her scooter to work, clad in a warm jacket, gloves and a muffler.
"My daughter once had a little Honda Spree, and I guess this is sort of like reliving the past," said Plater.
Riding the scooter five to six days a week, Plater has racked up almost 1,200 miles. Her husband Bill, a retired businessman, purchased his Metropolitan scooter in April 2004, and enjoys using his for short jaunts around town. He's put 600 miles on his scooter.
According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, sales of scooters, which were estimated at 86,000 last year, have doubled since 2000. The price of a scooter can range from $1,500 for a small scooter to upwards of $4,000 for a larger scooter, which is capable of higher speeds.
Scooters are state licensed and street legal, however one must hold a driver's license to legally operate. The scooters can top out at 40 miles per hour, but more comfortably cruise at 25 to 30 miles per hour.
"We use our scooters for short trips to the grocery store, the mall and the library," said Susan Plater. "In good weather, we ride our scooters out in the countryside, through Creal Springs and on the back roads around Marion."
Plater purchased a basket for the back of her scooter, hoping to take her toy poodle riding with her, but her dog wasn't fond of the experience.
The couple recommends a scooter for anyone who wants to save money on gas and enjoys the outdoors. Unlike a motorcycle, Susan Plater said there is no manual shifting of gears on a scooter, which allows the driver to concentrate on the road.
For now Plater is happy with her scooter, but next spring is considering stepping up to a larger, more powerful scooter.
"This is the poor person's Harley," said Plater. "And, you can get the same open-air thrill as riding a motorcycle."

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