On several occasions after getting back from France, Stephanie and I independently had these frustrating waiting-for-the-bus experiences. Often in the cold, usually at night, battling the wind, waiting 30+ minutes, and sometimes breaking down to get a cab—adding insult to injury by transforming a $1.50 bus fare into a $8-10 cab fare. Compared to Paris’ metro, Muni sucks.
As I was preparing to sell my car, it occurred to me that a scooter of some sort might be a lot easier to park in the city. And thus might open up some of the city’s less accessible areas to more exploration.
I think I mentioned the idea off-hand to Stephanie the morning I dropped my car off with its new owner. Later that night I looked up an odd three-wheeled scooter we’d spotted in Paris (the Piaggio MP3) and discovered that the Vespa dealership in SF (only a few blocks from us) had some available for test rides. They also had some Piaggio BV500s, a sleek 460cc bike that we’d seen through the window of a Vespa shop back in Santa Rosa. Along with Jean-Claude and Sabine (who were in town for the first round of the French elections) we decided to make a Sunday afternoon of it.
I think we might have been there for more than 3 hours. We showed up mostly to get a peek at the MP3, and after several test rides on different scooters, we left pretty certain we were going to buy one. That week we both got our motorcycle permits, started scoping out craigslist, almost bought a used Vespa (but decided we were moving a lil’ too fast), and signed up for a Motorcycle Safety Course in Santa Rosa (in order to get our motorcycle licenses) two weeks hence.
Well that was last weekend. We drove up to Healdsburg (in a Zipcar) to crash a Stephanie’s dad’s house, and then spent all day Saturday and Sunday, from 9-5:30, learning how to operate a motorcycle safely—or in our case, a scooter.
From 9-11:30 both days we had a classroom session, going over a safety handbook, answering questions, and watching videos, which culminated in a 50 question multiple choice test. We all passed.
And then we spent from 12:30-5:30 both days on scooters, riding various scenarios to acquaint ourselves with basic operation, riding skills, and safety maneuvers. Over the course of two days we both rode 20 miles around that parking lot. All that practice culminated in a riding skills test (double U-turn in a box, obstacle avoidance swerve, quick stop, and 135° turn), which thankfully, we all passed. By the end, we were exhausted.
Here’s a few pictures:
In a few days, we should get a certificate of completion to take to the DMV in order to get our license without a driving test.