Should I Buy This?

The idea was planted in my head recently that I should get a scooter. It made sense to me for two reasons:
  • We only have one car. While this is fine most of the time, there are a few occasions when a second set of wheels would be nice, such as when our schedules conflict. These occasions are not frequent or pressing enough to necessitate a second car, but the threshold for getting a scooter is much lower. They cost much less, and I wouldn't need a special license, registration, or insurance for a model under 50 cc (I wouldn't need a helmet, either, but I'd still wear one - safety first!).
  • My commute is pretty short. It also takes place along roads with 45 mph speed limits, which is not much more than the 35 mph maximum speed of most 50 cc scooters. This seems like an optimum route for a scooter trip. If I had to take the interstate everyday, it would be a different story.
The benefit to a scooter would be the savings on gas. These things get about 100 miles per gallon. With that in mind, I ran some numbers:

My commute is 8 miles round trip, which comes out to 40 miles per week. My car gets about 17.5 mpg, and if we assume gas is $2.75/gallon, I spend $6.18 per week to travel to/from work. With a scooter, I'd spend $1.10. If I use it 34 weeks per year (assuming I'm not hardy enough to ride it in winter or in rain), that would amount to savings of $173 per year.

Assuming I spend $1000 on a scooter, it would take almost 6 years for it to pay for itself. That's not quite the immediate benefit I was looking for. But how long would a scooter allow us to delay the purchase of a second vehicle? Maybe five years, or until we have multiple children with various activities to attend. If that delay allows us to save enough money to buy a vehicle with cash and avoid loan payments, that would put another check mark in the pro-purchase column.

Safety is another issue to consider. I have no interest in motorcycles, for safety reasons, but I feel pretty comfortable about a scooter (without having driven one in traffic, though). I think this is largely because of the lower speeds involved. I don't think MacKenzie shares this comfort. While no safety gear is required for a 50cc model, and many ride without it, the sites I've looked at have suggested wearing full gear, from gloves to jacket to pants to boots. I'd have to figure out what I want to wear, recognizing that this adds to my cost calculations. I want to keep my skin, though, so I won't skimp.

Do you have any thoughts on this? Most importantly, would it make me look cool?


  1. It would not make you look cool, no. There are a lot of scooter drivers around Madison and most of them are young women. However, all your other arguments are pretty convincing. Even if the scooter wouldn't technically pay for itself in gas money savings, you can't discount the extra benefit of convenience and freedom that having two vehicles would give you. MacKenzie, if him buying a scooter allows you and the baby to run to the store whenever, he should totally do it.

  2. you would not look cool and 45mph is much higher than 35mph to the impatient suv driving soccer mom stuck behind you....I'm just saying.

  3. I'm really torn. It would make my life a whole lot easier once the baby comes to have access to a car. Right now I take the car about once a week but that means dropping him off in the morning. Trying to get up and ready to be out the door by 7:45 with a baby does not sound like fun.

    On the other hand, I do want my baby to have a father. The roads he drives on are not very busy even at "rush hour" and most people don't go faster than 35-40 on them anyway and I know Craig would be a careful driver but there are too many people driving around that are paying more attention to their cell phone or radio than the road.

  4. I say go for it. It sounds like you've weighed all the pros and cons, and it is does seem to make a lot of sense, not to mention a more convenient lifestyle for all of you.