The Scooter Alternative

Scooter sales are on the rise, as Americans wake up to the effect of high gas prices on their pocketbook.

"Chris Casal, a Brooklyn, N.Y., elementary-school teacher, used to drive to work almost every day, mainly because it took 12 minutes compared with an hour by subway. But rising fuel and parking costs made the trip "kind of ridiculous," he says.

So last year he bought a Vespa GTS scooter that uses about $7 of fuel every two weeks instead of the $30 his Honda Civic consumed. He parks free in the schoolyard, and the two-wheeler impresses his students. The kids also like "the odd factor," he says. "I'm a six-foot-one-inch, 255-pound guy on a little Italian scooter."

You know drivers are feeling the pinch of pricey gas when big guys, even pickup-driving contractors, start trading four wheels for two. But it is happening more often as gasoline drifts toward -- and, in some places, beyond -- $4 a gallon. Sales of motor scooters, which are like a cross between a small motorcycle and a lightweight moped, have soared this year."

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