Scooters are a popular alternative to cars in Central Ohio.

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Sales of motorized scooters have doubled in the United States since 2001 according to figures provided by the Mororcycle Industry Council. While firm numbers are difficult to come by in Central Ohio, local scooter shop owners say their sales have increased by double digits. WOSU’s Marilyn Smith reports.

Aaron Saez owns Sonic Scooters on North High Street. He says scooter sales in Columbus are well above what manufacturers had projected

Rick Beam of Zoot Scoots on West Fifth Avenue concurs.He’s seeing sale increase by twenty to thirty percent a year.

Thirty-six year old Eric Martineau bought his vintage Vespa in 2001.

He says the Italian made scooter and those like it are often called “Franken-bikes” since mechancis are often to use whatever part they can get when repairs are required.

A lawyer with an office in the Short North, Martineau finds the green steel Vespa the ideal vehicle to negotiate urban streets.

Martineau says he now relies on the Vespa as his sole means of transportaion after getting rid of his car about a year ago.

Vespas whether vintage or new can be pricey costing more than twice as much as scooters imported from Asia.

But shop owner Beam says scooters manufactured in Taiwan are a durable alternative at half the price.

They say an import from Twiwan costs about three thousand dollars compared with around six thousand for a Vespa.

Winter is the only time of year when riding a scooter is not an option.

Martineau says on days when ice or snow cover the streets he takes the bus or hitches a ride with his wife.

Otherwise, he rides the Vespa and says he saving a bundle on gas.

He says he’s spending less than ten dollars a month for gasoline. Insurance is pretty cheap too costing about one-hundred dollars a year.

Shop owners Beam and Saez agree scooters with their bright colors, retro styling and high gas mileage are seductive. But they warn accidents are common.

Saez says he gives customers are free helmet when they buy a scooter and he urges them to follow safety guidelines.

In Ohio, scooter riders are required to get a motorcycle license. Riding a scooter without one can result in a six month prison sentence and a twenty-five-hundred dollar fine.

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