Sunday, April 26, 2009

SoHo Scooters has just opened and is selling gas-sipping motor scooters to Tampa's car-obsessed drivers. While many parts of the world have long regarded the versatile scooter as the way to go, we Americans seem caught up in a Catch 22 transportation situation. We've allowed decades of sprawl and suburban growth to take us away from our town centers into faraway gated communities. The result is a longer commute traveling on busier and busier local streets, highways and interstates that are perpetually clogged with huge cars, pickups and semi's. Would you dare drive a scooter on most of our local roads? To work each day? To the neighborhood market? No? Well, bigger cities with narrower roads and much larger populations throughout Italy, France and Japan adore the scooter culture. Thousands can be seen parked together and seem to multiply by the hour. They make sense in so many ways. And the drivers in cities such as Florence and Paris don't jockey with American-sized iron monsters that jam our parking lots and fill our three-car garages. Their cars are the proper size for parking spaces, streets and comfort. Could we drop cars for scooters tomorrow? I wouldn't. But electric carts like the yellow one peeking out behind the red scooter under the umbrella, a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle to be precise (NEVs), are busy transporting tourists, business people and locals alike, thank you. And the world hasn't ended. Could SoHo Scooter be at the forefront of increasing awareness and sales of scooters? Could Tampa follow the way of some of the world's great cities? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Hey. Why not adopt scooters AND mass transit, too? That's so 22nd century isn't it.

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