Sunday, 3 June 2007

Safety on 50ccs

What with planning year-end field trips. marking final projects, avoiding writing report cards, and attending to my parental duties (year end shows/concerts and water polo/lacrosse games of my daughters), I haven’t had a lot of time to blog - nor do I see that I’ll have a much time for the next three or so weeks - but I’ll do my best to write something.

I thought I’d tackle something that is probably a bit contentious - safety.

First of all, understand that I come from a bicycling background. I’m a pretty safe cyclist - I wear bright colours, I always wear a helmet and gloves, I have lights and reflectors on my bike which I use, and I obey the rules of the road.

I have taken a lot of what I have learned as a cyclist and transferred that to my scooter riding. I think riding a 50cc scooter is not a huge jump from riding a bike and the skills I have developed as a cyclist over many years work really well on a scooter.

What skills? Looking everywhere to make sure nobody is going to kill you is a good one to start with. Anticipating that cars at intersections might not see me. Making sure I have lots of room in front of me so I can stop safely. Not doing stupid things because two wheels aren’t as stable as four.

The reader might think, where is this going? Well, we have had a spot of hot weather - 25 to 30 degrees C. ( I think that’s somewhere in the 80s F. - it’s been a long time since I’ve used that scale) - and I’ve been scooting around in (gulp) shorts and a t-shirt!

So, what do I usually wear when out on my scooter? A helmet - a half shell model that was the only one I could find to fit my head in the Vespa store. It has ear flaps to protect my ears and a visor. I bought a clear shield from Helmets R Us that snaps onto the front and is great in rainy and cold weather. I actually have it down most of the time unless it’s really hot. Full face helmets scare me - the only time I put one on I had a heckuva time getting it off my head without removing my nose. I do plan on getting a 3/4 helmet - I think that would be a good compromise.

For a jacket, I usually wear my red, reflective gortex cycling jacket from Mountain Equipment Coop. I realize that it’s not that much protection if I fall down but my rationalization is that I’m not going a whole lot faster than on my bike. It’s most important, in my opinion, for people to see me. If it’s really hot, and I’m going on a local trip, I do sometimes just wear a t-shirt. My bad.

I always wear gloves - sometimes two pairs together if it’s cold and wet. I have some leather gloves but prefer full fingered cycling gloves in warm weather and lobster mitts or kayaking gloves in cold or rainy weather.

As for pants, I try to wear jeans but I do sometimes wear slacks (on the way to work) or even shorts (which I feel a little guilty about). Mind you, riding with my shades on, in shorts, and wearing a t-shirt on a sunny day is a wonderful feeling. Guilty pleasure, perhaps?

Footwear? Running shoes. Sometimes I wear suede shoes that fit higher up the foot than running shoes.

I am always open to change so I may wear ‘safer’ clothes in the future but I’m OK with what I’m wearing now. I do go faster than my bicycle and if I did fall off my scoot at a fast speed, I have no illusions about the potential for serious injury. However, I try to ride as safely as possible, without taking stupid risks, so I hope to avoid serious injury. After all, the only time I’ve crashed on my bicycle was when I couldn’t get out of my clipped pedals and fell down - at a stop sign!

Ok, so that's what I currently think on safety on a 50cc scooter. Go ahead, let me have it....


Orin said...

Dave, clothing seems to be a common subject among us scooter bloggers at the moment, and I am not ashamed to admit I rode in shorts and a t-shirt most of the weekend, which saw temperatures in the 80s farenheit.

When I first got a scooter nearly four years ago, I wore thick jeans and armour everywhere. Then one day, I realized if I were riding my bicycle, I'd be wearing the spandex sausage-case ensemble, which offers absolutely zero protection when you hit the pavement.

On days like today, I tend to think having my brain melt from being overdressed is just as dangerous as not having the armor in case I fall. Maybe more so. So my choice of clothing will depend on speed, distance and traffic volume. If I'd gone on a club ride, heck yead I'd wear jeans, hiking boots and the Corazzo 5.0 jacket.

But if it's just me, on a 30 mph road with little traffic, I'll wear the shorts and t-shirt, and not feel guilty.

Scootin' Old Skool

American Scooterist Blog said...

Some will tell you that falling down at thirty mph will tear your skin right off when you sandpaper the tar with a leg but you know, you're an adult and make your own decisions. As a fellow rider (and conservative voter type) I'm okey withyou making your own decisions and living with them. In a truly free society its really not anyone else's business what the individual chooses to do as long as it doesn't affect others' freedom. Yeah, I wear a lot of the gear. Probably more than most but its my choice and regardless, its also my job to be able to tolerate some of the different/opposing views of people I meet. So do what feels right to you and I hope you don't have to test some of that lighter gear on a fall someday. Because I've been known to cut the corners myself sometimes.


Dave Dixon said...

Thanks, you make me feel a bit less guilty - I sometimes think I'm the only blogger who doesn't suit up on a hot, sunny day.

I certainly respect your decisions - and reserve the right to change what I think about safety in the future. I don't have the experience riding that you have and it is good for me to hear what other people think. Thanks for stating your opinion clearly, graphically and respectfully!

Brock Henderson said...

Funny I just happened on this article while looking for scooter info. I was just in a accident on my scooter going about 35mph when an oncoming car turned left right into me.

I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, sandals, and a 3/4 helmet. From my new found experience I'm now of an opinion that a full face helmet would be the one upgrade I would make. Sure I have one hell of a case of road rash, but non of that really compares to the damage done to may face.

Don't know if I'll actually start wearing a full face helmet, but that's what I have to say on the subject. The scrapes look bad but they'll heal. My face will heal too, but there will be some nasty scars.

Neetee said...

Well written article.