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Scooters, mopeds good mpg choice for 2nd vehicle

April 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Lots of people are looking for ways to save money on gas these days. Halfway between riding a bike and driving a hybrid is a happy medium: motor-scooters.

This year's $4+ per gallon gasoline has been bad news for most people, but it's been good news for at least one local business.

"Our business has probably tripled," said Lee Matigian, Beach City Mopeds and Scooters.

Beach City Mopeds and Scooters opened a little over three years ago. Yep, mopeds -- as in, the fuel-sipping contraptions that many remember from the 1970s. They, along with scooters, can make a nice second vehicle as a way to save gas.

"With the gas prices, you can definitely tell big increase in scooter sales, where people are trying to leave their car at home and commute if they're going 10 miles," said Matigian.

Being in the Laguna Beach area helps. The scooters make it easy to get around and easy to park. And replacing a car part-time, they can pay off financially too.

"I'm saving about $75 to $80 a month on gas, so it's been great," said John Burns. Burns is a high school teacher in Westminster who uses his scooter to commute at least a few days a week.

The scooters at Beach City start at about $2,000 and can get anywhere from 80 to more than 100 miles per gallon.

One Laguna Beach family bought two scooters. Mom and dad will often run the kids to school on them, and are quite the sight in south Orange County.

"We have money where we could pay for gas, but we're all about inspiring other people to conserve," said Joseph Syverson.

When mopeds first became the rage back in the 1970s, you didn't need a license to ride one. The "ped" in moped is for "pedals," as in bicycling. They've changed the law since then, and today, whether you want to ride a moped or a scooter, you'll need an endorsement on you driver's license.

And of course helmets are mandatory too, but that's OK: They can be part of the scooter fashion. Safety experts would also advise wearing more protective clothing, even if you're only going short distances.

In reality, a scooter isn't going to replace anyone's car. But as a second vehicle it can take those pricey gallons of gasoline much farther.

"Most everybody that comes in is saying, 'Well, we're going to get rid of one of our cars and buy a scooter instead," said Matigian.

Besides: Try parking a car in downtown Laguna on a crowded weekend.


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