I have a question for you as a scooter rider. Here in Ottawa I wave to anybody on two wheels but scooter riders never seem to wave back. What's up with that?
David Drouin, who maintains the excellent Motorcycle Addiction blog sent me an email concerning the so called "biker's wave." It's one of those questions that pop up now and again on the various forums I frequent. Scooters in most states require the same licensing, the same training as motorcycles. Today many of the maxi-scoots are certainly as powerful as many motorcycles. That line continues to blur as motorcycles are redesigned with automatic transmissions and internal storage. So why don't we scooterists wave?
I really don't worry about if I don't get a nod or wave in return. Frankly you never know what is going on in the other bikers world. He could be concentrating on shifting, turning, safety, etc. What really annoys me however is two things I've come across again and again. The first is a arrogance, either real or perceived by those in the motorcycling community that scooter riders are not real "bikers." Therefore we are not worthy of a wave.
It's been a few years since and to the best of my knowledge they still don't service scooters, which seems to be cutting off the nose to spite the face, after all scooters are the fastest growing segment of the motorcycling world. Some forums, like advrider.com (which I am a member of) have a section dedicated to scooters, but with the caption "If your secure in your manhood." I know, it's meant to be funny. It's not and again, shows a perceived bias against those of us that ride "scooters." That somehow we are not "real men."
I've been asked questions about my scooter. "Is it street legal?" "Can you ride on the highway with it?" These questions often come from the non-riding public. But I've been asked those same questions by "bikers" as well.
The second issue is the nature of scooters themselves. I ride a maxi-scooter - generally defined as anything above 250cc. Well I'm not a rarity; it's much more common to come across a smaller, slower scooter often in the urban environment putting along between 30 to 50 mph (48 - 80 kph). Even as a scooterist myself, I've railed against these smaller cc machines. For me it's an issue of safety. If your top speed is only 45 mph your limited to what roads you can ride safely.
When I first started riding I had a Zuma 125. My top speed was 55 mph (89 kph) and although I felt safe on the city streets, I was always looking about to make sure I was not going to get hit by some moron behind me. Any two wheeled vehicle is invisible to most cagers.
Scooters are smaller due to their very nature. So did I wave as often as I do now? No, I did not. Putting aside the safety issue however, we scooterists seem to have a bit of an inferiority complex. I will admit to lying about what I ride at times because of perceived bias on someone's part. I felt the sting of others scorn because I don't ride a "real bike." Even my beloved girlfriend wants me to buy a "real bike" sometime in the future.
Is it because we are underpowered for the most part? Is it because popular culture recognizes the motorcycle and celebrates the "outlaw lifestyle" it represents? How many shows and movies involved motorcycles? Can you name one movie other than Quadrophenia that has scooters in it? Even the quintessential American Graffiti has a kid riding a scooter, who promptly crashes it in the opening credits. At the end of the movie he is given a car. Given these images it is any wonder why scooterists have an inferiority complex.
We have very little in the culture that celebrates the scooter. American culture is about speed and power and going long distances. Sure a scooter is going to go further, some of them are capable of nearly 100 miles on a gallon of gas...but to do so we have to give up speed and power. Most Americans are not willing to do that. So the scooter is "inferior." Those of us that ride them are "inferior."
Finally, and sadly, I think most scooterists don't give the wave for one simple reason. We don't know any better. We don't get the wave, so we don't give the wave. Give the wave. Give a smile.
I'm going to continue to ride Kimmie in all types of weather and on all types of roads. I will continue to wave at scooterists and motorcyclists. Hell, I'm even waving at bicycles. If I see an issue I'll pull over to offer what little help I can. I'm a scooterist, I'm a biker, I'm a proud member of the brotherhood of two wheels.