Monday, March 30, 2009

A special parking spot.

Every once in a while I need to get back to what this blog was actually started for. That's the encouragement to use a motorcycle for commuting. Even further, to use a bike for everyday transportation as much as possible. Whatever I write about in this blog, that factor is always on my mind.

As I travel around I keep a watch for bikes being used as work commuters. I came across one in a very special parking place. Back to that in just a minute.

In accordance with my established habit, I can't stop myself from taking a very short side trip first!

The other day I was in the middle of trying to help an architect sell a client on a product I represent. One of our lines is a plastic locker. It's pretty beefy while looking good. The other popular choice is metal lockers. Our line is more durable. Not only that, but we use recycled content. The standard locker contains 30 percent post consumer material. There is also the option of having a hundred percent recycled content. Between the increasing push to use "green" products and the ever growing LEEDS standards, our lockers are being specified more often.

So this client wants to see some lockers that have already been installed. The client is a big health care facility. I happened to know of a similar facility in Eugene. I offered to meet the client there but they did not want to make the four hour round trip. The next best thing was pictures. Which is how I found myself riding to Eugene with the Nikon in a saddlebag.

This is one of the photos. Imagine this. You show up at a medical clinic. Nobody knows you from Adam or Charlie Manson. The riding gear is stashed in the bike to reveal business casual attire. Nothing hides the helmet hair, though. Finding a likely person to accost, you request to take some pictures of their lockers. Fortunately, the girl you see above has an adventuresome spirit! Between that and my winning personality, I find myself in the women's locker room with her. It's evident I've won her trust. Although she made sure the room was clear, first!

So that's the background.

I parked among a bunch of cars far out in the lot. When I got close to the building, I saw this scooter parked right up next to the sidwalk near the employee's entry.

This is a very interesting building. It's built on a very modern philosophy of green construction. Showing a level of sophistication not commonly found, the areas not open to wandering members of the public are protected by electronic card access portals. A number of buildings have card access systems. What makes this one more unique is that the readers are biometric. They read thumbprints.

The green construction is also reflected in the parking lot. Note the lettering behind the scooter.

The intent is obvious. Whether or not motorcycles actually qualify could be up for grabs. Admittedly, I haven't made a deep study of the subject. My general understanding is that the total volume of exhaust pollutants are lower than cars. Proportionately, however, motorcycles aren't exactly what you would call "clean". Although the standards keep going up for newer models.

What's important here, I think, is the perception factor. As you know, perception is reality for a great deal of the population. It's human nature. Take the age old example of walking along a trail in the forest. If a person dressed in a bear costume jumps out in front of us from behind a tree, our perception certainly becomes our reality at that moment. The brain doesn't say, "Hmmm, let's take a minute to see what's really here." No, it immediately takes the perception as reality and starts the feet pumping. A definite possible additional act might be making loud noises as we scream and run. Of course, I'd never do that, but you get the point of the illustration!

The same thing applies to motorcycles. I get so many students who come into classes with the desire for more economical transportation. The reality might be different. Once tires and maintenance are figured in, the costs may not be that much less than an economy car. There's no arguing the fact that two wheeled vehicles certainly tread more lightly upon our planet, though. A fact I'm pretty smug about as I intermingle with Hummer drivers.

Whatever the reality versus perception, I'm pleased to see a large entity like this medical clinic recognize and reward the use of motorcycles for transportation. The more of us who ride to work, the more of this kind of thing will happen. Here's to building positive perceptions!

Miles and smiles,



Balisada said...

[Begin Tangent]
How can someone just leave their helmet on their seat?

I paid $500 bucks for my helmet and for that price it gets it's own seat in the restaurant.
[End Tangent]

On a Honda Rebel Newsgroup that I belong to, the economics of motorcycles came up.

Just how economical are motorcycles?

One of the more accounting minded members actually took the time to figure it out and, for the Honda Rebel, discovered that motorcycles are economical only if you were going to buy another car anyway.

Otherwise, all the extra's, like maintenance (which is more often for motorcycles), safety equipment, tires, training if you choose to, and any other necessities, actually outweighs the cost of a car.

However, the person who posted noted:

YOU DO HAVE THAT WONDERFUL MOTORCYCLE FEELING, which is the biggest and best advantage, and one cannot really put a dollar value on this!

And while I do believe that my motorcycle generally costs more after factoring everything, I also sincerely believe that if I could have one single vehicle parked in my driveway, money no object, then my choice would still be a Honda Rebel.

So it's like a Mastercard commercial.

Honda Rebel MSRP: $3399
Arai Quantum II Helmet: $525
That wonderful motorcycle feeling: Priceless



Dave said...

Hey Dan

That looks like one of the low cost import 250s scooters
There not a bad buy if you don’t mind doing your own wrenching
To get the bugs worked out.

They fill a niche the big name bike boys have all but forgotten .
It should do about 75 MPH an get around 70 MPG.

They are good for short to medium commute
I heard of some being used on 100 mile round trips.

There good in stop an go traffic easy to park an can be loaded like a pack mule for throes quick shopping trips in to town an are a blast for throes weekend back road ramblings
I think you are going to see a lot more of them

After seeing the full face helmet on the back want to bet if you pop the seat you would find a good riding jacket an maybe some rain gear
Cant tell by the pic but the helmet could be locked to the grab rail

Old F

Anonymous said...

"reality versus perception?"

Your header photo Dan..
Did you renew your license sticker?

Maybe take a photograph and post it?

Anonymous said...

As tothe low emissions vehicle, low as compared to what?

A Toyota Prius would fit that slot, or
a Honda Insight either the older style or the newer sub-compact.

Somehow I don't think they meant the

Mind you was thinking "the lady that allowed Dan into the lady's locker room is the owner of the yellow scooter." Guess not, eh?

And no doubt the D40 was more than adequate for the assignment.

-Tim said...

I really hope that helmet is secure...
Honestly I do believe that a motorcycle is cheaper than a car to own. My maintenance on my bike coast maybe 200 bucks a year. Gas mileage is better. It's just more fun.

redlegsrides said...

At one of the data centers I work at, there's a special spot (due to the intrusion of a light pole) that's by default for motorcycles....real close to the entrance. You gotta be early or determined to get it.

Lately, it's been mine...all mine.

About low emissions, lets just say my 1987-vintage V8 "sucks gas while parked" surely is worse for the environment than my motorcycles. As to maintenance and operating will eat up your budget everytime, plus expendables for services. So really, not that much cheaper as you say.

However, there's the fun factor....

irondad said...

I had a similar reaction. Who would just leave their helmet on the seat like that? Your helmet must be the reason I can't get a seat in a restaurant!

Nice credit card commercial.

I saw you a couple of times in the last few days. You probably recognized my 'Stich and Elvira Thursday night. We were getting ready for classroom.

Then I saw you either Sunday or Saturday morning. I was teaching out on the range. The heavy rain on Sunday washed away my memory. Either way, your jacket and tiger accents give you extra style!

Take care,


irondad said...

Old F Dave,
I totally agree that a scooter like that would be perfect for all around work. Eugene is a college town of about a hundred thousand if you count all the outlying areas. For the most part, the scooter would be easier to get around on than a car.

Not sure if the helmet was secured or not. My impression is that it wasn't but I didn't look that closely.

After I read your question about the tags I had to go out and check. Yep, I had remembered! We're good until 2011.

I'm sure that hybrids were the actual intent of the parking spots. They look like any other car spot except for the lettering.

Take care,


irondad said...

You know, I think a lot depends on how many miles a person puts on the bike. Another factor is valve adjustment intervals. The ST is really hard to do myself. And they need checked at 16,000 miles. That comes three times in two years for me.

My old Pacific Coast had hydraulic lifters, so no adjustments were needed. Elvira's manual says intervals are at 28,800 miles. So, with doing oil changes and stuff myself, I can see the costs being lower.

I've never been able to come up with a price for the fun factor. It's totally worth the extra maintenance and tire costs. I have noticed this weird connection between how huge the fun factor is and how high the tire costs are! What's up with that?

How are you doing out there? I heard there was some severe snow out there recently.

Take care,


Unknown said...

I was thinking that if you are in a secured area which requires a biometric key, and if the area is also manned by a security guard in their little building at the entrance, who keeps an eye out over the parking lot, then your helmet may be safe from "outsiders". But then again, it may have been secured to the scooter in some other manner. I don't like to take the risk that my helmet will be stolen, as you won't even be able to ride home.

I think that if I saw that label on the parking space I would also park my bike there. I would presume that with both my bikes being fuel injected, and my scoot passes Euro3 emissions, that I would be able to park there.

I'm not so sure that riding a larger displacement machine is more efficient than a car, but I would be safe to say that if you had a 49cc moped it would pay for itself just in gas savings, IMHO

and as others have stated above . . . Fun factor = priceless

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

cpa3485 said...

I have saved a very significant amount of money since I sold my car and bought a scooter. I don't care If the scooter lasts only half as long as my car would have, or If the costs of maintenance are higher, the overall cost of operations is still way less when you consider that my scooter cost less than $4,000 and the car I sold was $21,000 when it was new. The savings in interest alone has almost paid for the scooter already.

What I think people forget is that whether it be a car, scooter or motorcycle, we are still talking about a means of transportation. The only real disadvantage of my scooter vs my car was the ability to haul large items, the ability to transport a number of people, or the ability to drive in really inclement weather. Otherwise the scooter fits the bill just as well as my car did, at less overall cost and with a whole lot more fun.

I am not sure a scooter or motorcycle needs a special place to park just because of the greater fuel efficiency. Hell, they are easy enough to park anyway. But it is sure great to see companies open up their eyes to recognizing that fuel efficiency is really important. How many times do we see large SUV's on the morning commute with only one person in it. That kind of vehicle would be relatively efficient If there were 4 people in it, but few are driven that way.

In my opinion, the $ savings is huge and then there is the FUN!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear IronDad:

In my humble unqualified opinion, owning a motorcycle for economical reasons is like heating the house by burning $50 bills in a garbage can. My 1995 BMW K75 will only burn high octane gasoline that has been run through the grotto at Lourdes. Tires are replaced at every 8,000 to 10,000 miles. The oil is changed when it deepens from the color of good champagne to the color of cheap champagne.

Since it is oil from a BMW, my inlaws drink it like it was champagne.

As far as motorcycles go, however, I'll get 150,000 on this one before I may have to get the valves adjusted. And quite frankly, if there was a parking spot close to the door that said, "Reserved for emissions-free vehicles that get 87 mpg, driven by people who only get laid by folk singers," I would still my bike there.

Regarding the thumbprint biometric, this is just bullshit from the word go. The folks on Mythbusters (the show on TV) used a Xerox machine and latex to open federal security locks requiring thumbprints. The feds and the credit card companies shut them down before the could expose the RFID chips for the bullshit they are too.

As you are aware, I ride with a Beemer crowd. You would be amazed at how many of these guys leave their helmets unattended on a bike. Many have left their keys in the bike too. Only one guy had a helmet stolen, and that was in South Dakota or Minnesota.

I lock mine to the bike.

Did you make the sale with the lockers? I have a healthy respect for any man who can talk his way into the womens locker room.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Conchscooter said...

Economy is a Toyota Yaris.Economy is a bus pass. I had to drive a van to Miami yesterday (15.7mpg 6km/liter) and the strain of being stuck in traffic on highway one all the time aged me till I started to look like jack riepe. It was horrible. And then to add insult to injury I got stuck behind a cruiser doing 50 in a 55. And I couldn't pass as I was driving that great white lump.No get up and go.

Conchscooter said...

Oh and the helmet thing is a perfect illustration of the perception thing. All readers assume the rider was hard at work far away and not sitting in the nearby car making an assignation with a woman half twice his age. Touch his helmet and he would have been on you like irondad on a failing trainee.

Dean W said...

In the US the standards for motorcycles may be much lower than cars, but most new bikes sold on the global market meet Euro-II or -III standards for emissions. FJRs have catalytic converters and EFI with oxygen sensors. My '04 FJR met Euro-II; I believe Dan's (with an updated ECU) meets Euro-III.

For overall environmental impact (all the metal, plastic, glass, etc.) , I suspect one would have to put a lot of miles on a Prius- with the original batteries, before it would be as green as most any motorcycle or scooter.

irondad said...

The building proper is secured but the parking lot is free range, so to speak. If I had a moped I would name it "Killer"!

You're exactly right about not being able to ride home without the helmet. That's why I always either put it in a hard bag or take it with me. I don't even trust cables.

Initial purchase price has to figure in there for sure. That's the sweet part a lot of people forget about.

A lot of people seem to have pretty fragile egos. It's easy to make them feel special. Like giving them "special" parking spots. If it helps, I'm for it.

Take care,


irondad said...

Mr. Riepe,
Drinking used oil from BMW's is so last year. The crowd that's really in the know are drinking used antifreeze from airheads. As you might surmise, this is a scarce commodity and thus highly valued for it's "exclusive" snob appeal.

I don't personally sell thumbprint readers so that's a mute point. Although I am pleased to see that latex has yet another use for making an entry.

Yes, we made the sale of the lockers. I'm still amazed that the gal accepted my offer to go into the women's locker room and take some photos!

Take care,


irondad said...

Ok, how bad can it be being stuck behind somebody there? On an island how many miles of road are there?

I do admit,though, that looking lilke Jack Riepe would be a really unpleasant fate.

It's entirely possible that the scooter rider wasn't an employee. But you are so sexist! Maybe it was a woman rider with a man half her age. Although, in your formula they would be the same age. Note your wording:

"sitting in the nearby car making an assignation with a woman half twice his age."

Perhaps you're already more like Riepe than you care to admit.

Take care,


P.S. We really do love you, Jack. What's that look you are known for? A wounded seal or something? It makes you so irresistable that we can't help ourselves. Since we guys can't bear the thought of hugging you, we express our affection by calling you names.

irondad said...

Dean W,
Thank you for the evidence that so clearly supports us and makes us look good!

Some people drive a Prius in some sort of attempt to be Green. I think the worst fate that could befall a man is to end up driving a Powder Blue Prius!

By the way, don't speak too loudly about bikes having catalytic converters. Next thing you know, the tweaker meth heads will be trying to cut our pipes up for scrap value. Although I could still ride home as long as they didn't take my helmet!

Take care,


redlegsrides said...

prius owners should research how much damage to the environment is done creating all those batteries they use....they wouldn't feel so happy about driving their "eco-friendly" cage.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear IronDad and Conch:

At present, I am holding the state bird of New Jersey on my upturned fist. I wish you guys could see it. I really do.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe
Twisted Roads

Dean W said...

Dan- if someone steals your catcon, then you can just claim you've converted to the "loud pipes save lives" crowd. ;-)
Until then...
"If you think loud pipes save lives, imagine what learning to ride that thing could do."

Dave said...

If you guy cant play nice you can all go to your rooms or for a ride witch ever comes first
; )

Old F