Viva La Scooter: Study Shows Scooters Can Help With the Environment and Congestion

February 13th, 2007 by William


I’m always looking for another excuse to tout the scooter as one of the best forms of motorized transportation. My motives are 100 percent selfish: I’m constantly trying to justify purchasing, owning and spending further money on a vintage Lambretta scooter. So when I read about a study in New York City that showed scooters having a positive impact on traffic congestion and the environment my guilty conscience temporarily disappeared. If scooters help to reduce traffic and have less impact on the environment than cars, then I don’t have to feel bad about owning one.

A new traffic model released today showed that bustling and crowded NYC could cut fuel consumption, save considerable amounts of time normally spent stuck in traffic and slash carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions significantly by getting more scooters on the streets. These results come directly in the wake of growing concern over traffic congestion in the nation’s largest city.

This traffic model traffic model focused on a specific section of midtown Manhattan. By using a detailed simulation that incorporated scooters into the traffic mix the model uncovered some interesting results. If the vehicle mix in city changed to 80 percent cars/20 percent scooters these would be the annual results:

-A total decrease in delay of more than 4.6 million hours per year –which translates to time savings of nearly 100 working hours per person
-A reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by over 26,000 tons (52,000,000-pounds) per year
-A decrease in fuel consumption by over 2.5 million gallons per year
-A total savings for New York City of more than $122 million per year in fuel and labor productivity

According to the folks at Sam Schwartz PLLC, these results are even a bit conservative as they didn’t take into account that two scooters can ride side by side or pass each other within a single lane. Paolo Timoni, the President and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas who sponsored this study, said “throughout the world, scooters are recognized as a smart transportation alternative, and this traffic simulation underscores the tangible impact that two-wheel vehicles can have on a major urban area like New York City,”.


New Vespa ET4

Mr. Timoni is absolutely correct. All around the world in major metropolitan areas people have left their cars at home (if they even own one) and have taken to the streets on scooters, mopeds and bikes. When I was in Barcelona I couldn’t walk a half a block without seeing a dozen scooters or small displacement motorcycles. It just plain makes sense to ride a scooter in a densely packed city where you are only driving on streets and you have to face the grind of heavy traffic. Scooters get great gas mileage, pollute less than cars, are easier to maneuver in traffic, fit in tiny parking spaces and are cheap to insure. They really are great city vehicles.

As far as my personal scooter, it is an old two stroke and probably wouldn’t have helped the scooter cause in this study; but what can I say it’s fun and cool (in a dorky kind of way).



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3 Responses to “Viva La Scooter: Study Shows Scooters Can Help With the Environment and Congestion”

  1. Gayle Says:

    I love scooters, but since my daughter was born, I seem to have a kid with me every time I walk out the door! She’ll be leaving for college in a couple of years, and I’m thinking of getting myself one then for errands and stuff. I’ve always loved riding them? Any advice on the best ones?

  2. William Says:

    Gayle, that’s great. You should definitely get one. There are a lot of good scooters on the market. If you want a real vintage bike that is also reliable the Vespa P200 is great and can be found used in good condition for decent price. If you want a new scooter with classic styling the new Vespa lineup is pretty good (I like the looks of the GT60. I’ve also ridden them and they are really easy to handle. Piaggio, Honda and numerous other companies also make more modern looking scoots that are good as well. Maybe I’ll do a comparison soon between some of the top makes.

  3. Gayle Says:

    A comparison could be really helpful. I’ve been out of the scooter market for so long, I don’t have any idea where to start!

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About William

I am a twenty something car enthusiast. I spend most of my days working in a small restoration shop in Northern California that specializes in vintage Alfa Romeos. I also manage to do some freelance writing for a handful of automotive publications. When I'm not at the shop I can usually be found working on one of my own project cars, out driving on a good windy road or good jeep trail. Despite what my girlfriend says cars aren't what defines me, they are only what I do. When I have a chance I also love to go camping, play sports or generally do any type of outdoor activity. I don't take myself to seriously, so I hope you don't either.

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