The VACC reported this week that scooter sales are set to reach record numbers, with sales up 40% over this time last year. This trend is highlighted by Vicroads stats showing a one-third increase in scooter registrations since 2001. But as motorists, does this just denote two-wheeled trouble?
A survey conducted by Melbourne based insurer AAMI has found most drivers are “annoyed with the increased presence of scooters” listing lane splitting, under-taking and cutting-in as just a few of the risky moves leading them to loathe sharing the road with our pint sized pals.
Let’s face it, some riders do have poor road manners, and whilst they are required by law to attend a class in order to obtain their license, most come away from that course thinking they’re Casey Stoner, when in reality, they aren’t fit for riding a pushy.
Riding, like driving, takes practise, lots of practise. Balance, maintaining speed, lane position, and braving the elements must all be learnt and practiced. Add this to memorising the existing road rules and displaying good road etiquette, makes it seem absurd that one’s license is picked up from completing a six-hour course on a closed course with no interaction from traffic. Sadly this is reflected by statistics showing a six-fold rise in rider fatalities over the last five years.
But scooter clubs insist that whilst there are some riders who set a bad example, the majority are just chasing convenience and are all about enjoying the journey, whilst at the same time avoiding high fuel prices, lack of parking, and poor public transport.
They also hint that driver ignorance is to blame for our newfound aggression, and that our car culture that isn’t ready for the Vespa invasion. We haven’t grown up with scooters on our roads and it’s high time we learnt to recognise the growing trend.
Either way, they’re here to stay and although we may be peeved by poor riding, just remember that it is a person atop that scooter and even a small accident will result in them coming off second best. So, be the bigger person, be patient, remember to head check, leave a gap and perhaps go for a ride yourself some day to see what it’s like. It may surprise you.