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High US pump prices fueling moped, bicycle sales

by RL Policar

moped

NEW YORK – Reuters

American motorists fed up with soaring pump prices are getting more curious about two-wheel transportation.

With gasoline above $3 a gallon in many parts of the country, fears of continued energy spikes are fueling sales of motorcycles, mopeds, and bicycles, leading bike associations said.

“What we’re seeing now with $3.50 a gallon gasoline is that people are looking for alternatives,” said Bill Wilkinson, executive director of the Bethesda, Maryland-based National Center for Bicycling and Walking.

Motorists are paying an average of $2.97 for a gallon of regular gasoline at the pump, up 66 cents from last year and less than 10 cents away from the $3.06 record retail price hit in September, September, according to travel and motorist group AAA’s survey of 85,000 gas stations.

With crude oil prices breaking records near $80 a barrel, motorists could see record pump prices soon, AAA has said.

“We’ve seen a lot more interest in scooters and motorcycles because of fuel economy,” said Ty van Hooydonk, director of product communications for the Motorcycle Industry Council. “When you’re looking at a motorcycle or a scooter getting two to three times the fuel economy of a car, people are going to think about it.”

Scooter sales surged 17.5 percent in 2005, climbing 65 percent in the third quarter in top brands such as Suzuki, Honda and Vespa, the MIC said. “The trend is definitely still on the rise, and we’re feeling pretty good for this year,” van Hooydonk said.

The $23.3 billion market for motorcycles and mopeds saw increased sales in the first quarter of this year, with on-highway motorcycle sales up 8.6 percent, and scooters up 2.1 percent.

But some travelers are shunning fuel altogether, turning instead to pedal power.

“For cycling, high gas prices have a real positive side,” said Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, a national coalition of bicycle suppliers and retailers in the $6 billion market.

Blumenthal said most bike dealers are seeing “a new type of customer” as more car drivers decide to cut costs by fixing their old bicycles or buying new ones for shorter trips.

Bike sales climbed 6.5 percent to 19.8 million in 2005 and should be similar this year, with sales already solid in the first six months, Blumenthal said.

“This year we expect a flat market — a lot of bicycles sold last year,” said Ash Jaising, president of Bicycle Market Research Institute, a division of Sports Market Research. He predicted a flat to very low increase in 2006 sales.

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5 Responses to “High US pump prices fueling moped, bicycle sales”

  1. Charles says:

    I haven’t noticed many new bike commuters. Big increase in mopheds though. I hadn’t seen one in years, so just a couple would make a big increase. I have seen alot of kids, elementary school to Jr high level, riding these electric scooters that look like Vespas. Usually electric scooters look flimsy and cheap, but these electric Vespa things look pretty solid.

    Anyways, I hope some of these people are buying bikes with 62 cm frames so I can pick up a good cheap unused bike in about 10 years.

  2. Chris says:

    Though riding a bike is cheaper than the scooter, the scooter is still a great alternative to cars for many people. Salesmen, computer techs, lawyers, and social workers are all jobs in which I can see someone needing to go to several locations during the day. Sure, a lot of people work in the same office every day, but some don’t.

    Therefore, I would encourage someone to get a scooter just as much as to get a bike. It’s economical, quick, easy to ride, and in some places, requires no special licensing. Here, if you are over 14, you can ride a

  3. Bike Worker says:

    Not surprising … A lot more people are asking about alternative transportation, owing to the pain points at the pump — a friend of mine pays $70 each time he refuels his Ford “Excursion”. He’d be perfect for a bicycle commute. He lives only a few miles from work, and almost never drives farther than the next time over.

  4. Leon says:

    the scooter is still a great alternative to cars for many people. Salesmen, computer techs, lawyers, and social workers are all jobs in which I can see someone needing to go to several locations during the day

  5. yvan says:

    Scooters are in France and Italy especially appreciated because it is chip and easy to park. But be carefull and do not drive like the french and the italians, drive carefully.

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