Last month Winnie and I undertook an experiment in low-tech commuting by purchasing a moped. Our thought was to use the moped for around-town transportation. It seemed ideally suited for getting me the 2.4 miles to my commuter bus stop each day. It was fuel efficient, low maintenance, and even a lot of fun driving. So, in the nearly one month we experimented with it, it did fine.
However, we ran into a snag. Friday, during the day while it was parked at the commuter lot, someone stole it. So much for our experiment.
One problem with using public transportation is getting people from their home to the public transportation drop-off points. Here in our area we have large “commuter lots,” large parking lots at major bus and metro (light-rail trains) connecting points. The commuter lots serving the Potomac Rappahannock Transit Commission (PRTC) commuter buses are all free parking, as opposed to the metro stations which charge so much for parking that commuting by train is no longer cost effective.
The larger – free parking – commuter lots here do have a reputation for being dangerous. At the main lot referred to as “Horner Road,” the theft and vandalism was so common a few years back that the PRTC assigned security guards in watch towers and roving patrols. But here at this side of town our small commuter lot seemed safe. It shares parking space with a “Boys and Girls Club” athletic center, and everything in the lot is visible from a main road. So I felt it was safe enough.
Obviously, I was incorrect.
I also noticed an definite hostility from the police department when I called to make a report. When I explained to the dispatcher that my moped was not registered, as per state law, I was told “any motor vehicle in Virginia must be registered,” and that my moped was probably impounded. I had a fight just to have the dispatcher get a police officer out to me. While I waited for the police to arrive, I called Winnie.
I asked her to come down to pick me up, and bring our moped title with her. When the police officer arrived, the officer spent the first several minutes trying to determine if my moped should have been registered and seemingly cared less about the theft. Finally, the officer acknowledged that it “probably” did not require registration, and using the VIN number determined it had not, in fact been impounded.
So that was that. The officer also was not encouraging about our chances of recovering the moped. In reality, without the requirement for registration there is little chance of the moped being found.
After two days of discussion, Winnie and I have decided to get a second car. The bottom line it that there is no place I can chain or store a moped at any commuter lot here where it has a reasonable chance of not being stolen. With the lack of security, there’s no point in being ecologically friendly…
So, on balance, here are the pros and cons of using a 49cc moped for local-area commuting:
No Insurance Required
No Registration Required
No Special License Required
Inexpensive to Operate
Fun to Drive
Easy to Park
|Dangerous to Drive in Rain|
Dangerous to Drive on Main Roads at Night
Gets Stolen Easy
So there it is; The results of our noble experiment in environmentally friendly low-impact commuting.
So today Winnie and I went shopping for a second car.
A Happy Halloween Indeed : Our Halloween turned into a celebration when a police officer contacted us, to inform us our moped was recovered.
Navy Leads the Way in EVs : The Navy is taking the early lead towards encouraging EV commuting.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished : In which we get a lesson about being honest in reporting parking lots dings to other cars.