Thursday, October 27, 2011

Riding a scooter (moped) in Boston

The first thing you need to do before getting scooter or moped is to make sure you have either a driver's license or a permit. If you're from another country, you need to convert your license to a Massachusetts license first, before you can apply for a Class M permit, which you need to get if you want to ride a scooter with an engine that is larger than 50 CC. To ride a 50 CC scooter, you just need a Class M permit or driver's license. I waited in line at the DMV for over an hour and was told that I had to get my driving record from Canada before they could convert my license and then let me test for a Class M permit. It didn't matter that my license was expired either. If your license can be converted, then it has to be converted. Whatever. So, I paid $18 to get my certified driving record and had to wait over a month to get it in the mail. When Ontario says that it takes 10 to 15 days to process your order, they start the time when they actually send the thing to the processing place. They sat on my application for almost a month before sending it! Okay, enough about that.

This is a video of a typical ride from Jamaica Plain to Super 88 in Allston:
Ok, so why am I telling you about buying a scooter when this blog is about eating and drinking good stuff for not much money? Well, the point is that one is limited to places around the subway (aka "T-stations" in Boston) if you don't have a personal mode of transportation. A car is just too expensive and bicycles are a little dangerous on some roads. Scooters can give you convenience and help you save money in the long-run. I had a room mate who got into at least 2 bicycle accidents but was fortunately saved by his helmet. He eventually got a motorcycle. For me, I'm just not a big enough badass to get a motorcycle, so I got a scooter. However, I wanted to be just a little badass and opted for the 125 CC scooter instead of the 50 CC scooters, which don't require an M license. The main reason for wanting to get the 125 CC one was because I wanted to be able to keep up with traffic on roads that have speed limits of 30 mph. I know that the 50CC scooters can go up to 30 mph but sometimes the actual speed at which motorists travel on those roads is a little higher. In short, the 125 will give me a few more choices in terms of roads that I can travel on without feeling like I'm holding up traffic. I bought my scooter at Scooters Go Green. Having a scooter gives me a lot more options in terms of where I can go. Public transit only takes you so far and going beyond the central area costs extra. The commuter rail is quite expensive if you go outside Boston. With a scooter that runs 80 to 90 miles per gallon, each trip costs much less than a subway ticket. Some great cheap eats are only bus accessible, which means that you either have to pay extra for delivery or take the bus to get there and back but have cold food. And, if you can get take-out instead of delivery, you'll save on the delivery charge (sometimes $2) and the tip. If you still wanna tip, that's great - I respect that. There are also some places that are only bus accessible or would take 30 or 40 minutes to walk there but only 10 minutes to scoot there. This is when having a scooter is really cool - you get to explore the places that you would never have gone before! For example, I live near a Popeye's Chicken, which would take about 40 minutes to walk there but on my scooter, I can be there in about 10 minutes. There's also a Save-a-lot market near there and I would never have gone without my scooter. If you think about the mileage in terms of how much it costs to scoot one mile, at the peak of $4/gallon at 90 miles/gallon, it's only 4.4 cents a mile! I used to pay $3.40 a day to commute to school but now, it's just a little over a buck a day (it's 12 miles each way). That really adds up. [Update - Jan. 14, 2012 - MBTA proposed fare hikes] Insurance and Safety If you have a clean driving record and take the motorcycle course, your scooter insurance could be as low as $100 a year. So, you're not only saving on gas, but also on insurance. Also, I highly recommend taking the MSF motorcycle course for safety (and not just the savings on insurance). It's quite obvious that riding a scooter or motorcycle is more dangerous than driving a car. However, the MSF course will help you lower your chances of getting into accidents because they will teach you everything about riding a motorcycle safely, from what to wear when riding to learning how to swerve safely. It only takes a weekend and you'll save 10% on your scooter/motorcycle insurance for the rest of your life (and maybe your life too). As an extra precaution, I try not to ride my scooter in the rain or snow. I've ridden in the rain before but it's not fun. Sometimes you'll still have to take public transportation but hopefully the weather cooperates enough so that you can realize some significant savings in addition to the added convenience that the scooter provides. [Update: July 2012]: Recently, there have been a few scooter thefts in the Boston area. If you don't already have one, get a heavy duty chain lock and make sure your scooter is securely locked to an immovable object, such as a light post. One of the scooters that was recovered was in ugly condition when the owner retrieved it.


  1. A scooter can save you both time and money.

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  2. You have explained the whole process very well, One thing that i like about mopeds means scooter under 50cc that there is no need of any special motorcycle license, CBT is enough.