getting around town

As I think is the case with most families, my husband and I have two vehicles. Unlike most families, though, only one of them is a car; the other is a Vespa.

Last week when my mother-in-law was in town I got to go out alone with my husband on the Vespa. Because we do not normally leave the baby with a sitter, I have only been able to do this one other time since Sammy was born. I love riding on the back of the bike.

We didn’t go anywhere very exciting — just to Trader Joe’s. That’s right, we went grocery shopping and considered it a date. Oh well. In the parking lot, playing the game of Tetris that is storing groceries in the trunk and under the seat (incidentally, it is amazing how much you can fit into one of these things), the man parked next to us asked if it was a Vespa. We said yes and he asked how much it cost. Though afterwards the question struck me as a little rude, at the time we just answered: pretty cheap, about four grand for the ET2, five or six for the faster models. We were surprised when he looked askance at our calling it cheap until we realized that for most people a scooter would be a toy, a weekend-only item, whereas my husband commuted to work all winter on it, even in the rain, and we use it for every possible errand. For a second car, $4000 can’t be beat. (You could get a used car for less, but if we’re talking new my point stands.) And at something like 75 miles per gallon…only a bicycle would be more efficient, but it would be harder to get to Sherman Oaks.

Anyway, this led me to wonder how other people get around town. What’s your primary vehicle (if you have one)? Do you have a secondary vehicle? If you’re a couple or family, what’s the vehicle breakdown? Do you have a vehicle that’s just for fun? Do you ride public transportation? Tell me everything!

Photo by astrovine, found at Flickr and used under a Creative Commons license.

10 Replies to “getting around town”

  1. A little off topic but I get the same thing with people when people ask me about my cello I say its pretty cheap, and then they ask how much, I tell them 10,000 dollars.

    Now I’m not saying it’s cheap for me (I’m very poor now :|), but in comparison to a professionals (I’m a student) instrument (upper 5 to 6 and sometimes 7 figure prices) it is quite cheap and the quality just isn’t as good.

  2. While not expensive for a Vespa, I think that most people would believe a vehicle costing $4k should be able to hit the freeway.

    For me, I have a little Toyota pick-up with a ton of miles on it (175,000) that I can’t bring myself to get rid of; it’s just too usesful. But recently, I picked up a used motorcycle for about half that. 80mpg and a great way to get around LA! BTW, not snobbing the scooter – bought, fixed-up and sold a 20 year old Honda scooter. Twist and go is very fun.

  3. It would actually be great if more people drove those in LA. I was in Rome and I could say that Vespas, or any scooter of choice, are the vehicle of choice. Its actually kind of funny seeing all of these people on scooters and men in suits going to work.

  4. “I think that most people would believe a vehicle costing $4k should be able to hit the freeway.”

    A few years back I had a ’73 P200 and that thing would do 70 MPH no problem and I took it on freeways around Chicago all the time. I only paid $1500 for that though. ;)

  5. I have two primary vehicles – a motorcycle (2003 ninja 500) and a 4-door hatchback. I had no vehicle for a year, then just the bike for six months or so, and now i’ve had both vehicles for a year – if I lost my job I’d have no problem selling the car and just using the bike – it’s sheer joy to split lanes in LA traffic. (oh yeah – it can go plenty fast enough to ride the freeway, trust me – and it cost a lot less than the vespa!)

  6. My girlfriend and I are in the same situation. She has a car, I’ve got a Vespa (LX 150). I wouldn’t have it any other way. I sold my car looong ago and I have no desire to ever own one again. The Vespa is definitely the ride of choice for any kind of errand, or for a night on the town. For anything in town, it’s not worth dealing with traffic, parking, and gas involved with a car. I also take my scooter on the freeway quite a bit – Santa Barbara, San Diego, and even as far as Vegas.

    However for most of this year, I’ve decided to be even more petroleum-light. 90% of the time I do my commute via bicycle. My monthly gasoline expenses have averaged about… oh… $10.

    Who says you need a car in this city?

  7. I used to have a girlfriend that would say that…..”Tell me everything…..” Argh!!! The shivers.

    Big houseboat…err…Caddy. Prefer to pedal my bike.

  8. When absolutely needed I put my relaible 10-year-old Nissan pick-up to use, but most of the past year it’s been left in the garage in favor of my bicycles. My wife rolls in a ’94 Honda Civic hatchback that I think has a ridiculous 58,000 miles on the odie.

    I’m all for scooters as a viable and economical and more eco-friendly mode of transport. But I just can’t get past the enormous Vespa pricetag. Even if I could afford one I’d look for a less expensive brand where the majority of the sticker wouldn’t be going to its marketing and nameplate.

  9. Just a quick heads-up on scooter purchases – skip the Chinese mades. Not anything against China in particular, but they have no warranty, no dealer/parts support if they do break (they will), and many times cannot be registered due to emissions control problems (you’ll find that out at the DMV, too late for a refund).

    Stick to the name brands (Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Vespa, Aprilla). The only other brands worth mentioning are Kymco from Taiwan, and Bajai from India. You pay for quality, but used bikes are always up on CL. Just take you time.

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