About the rider

Sunday, 6th June 2010; 7:51 pm

p-1600-1200-7e49a534-bad0-4e95-9d16-59dfcff8679a.jpegMy name is Todd VerBeek. I’m a middle-aged professional computer geek, semi-pro web/graphic designer, and amateur cartoonist.

The summer after I graduated from high school, my friend Adam and I pedaled and took the train on a 38-day trip through England, Wales, and Scotland, camping out in a 1.5-person tent. More recently, I’ve been on some 4- to 11-day excursions backpacking in the wilderness (Isle Royale and North Manitou Island). In between I’ve done some extended travel by train through Europe. So I’m not exactly a traveling neophyte, but before 2009 I’d never done anything quite like a scooter road trip.

I’m pretty new to scooters, getting my first in the Spring of 2009. And I’ve been discovering that scooterists are a rather diverse crowd. Not in the sense of “We come from different backgrounds, but are united in our common beliefs.” No, more in the sense of “We each came here for different reasons, and really have little in common but the kind of vehicle we use.” Some enjoy tinkering with their vehicles as much as riding them. Some just like to get out and ride around for the thrill of it. Some are stuck with scooters because the law or their finances don’t let them drive a car. I’m not any of those. So let me explain why I have a scooter:

Getting a scooter isn’t some kind of mid-life crisis for me (at least not just that 🙂 ), but a logical progression of my approach to transportation. I think of it as the Least Necessary Vehicle principle. It means walking to the store a few blocks away if all I’m getting is stuff I can carry. For a few years it meant riding my bike to work a couple miles away (except in bad weather, when I rode a single seat on a bus). It means not using (or even owning) an SUV when a much smaller hatchback will do what I need. Each time I’m about to go somewhere, I quickly assess whether I can walk there… if not, can I take the bike… if not, can I take the bus… until I find a the LNV that works. It’s about deliberate moderation. If more people in our society did this, we wouldn’t be in the economic, environmental, and medical mess we’re in.

But there was a gap in my toolbox of transportation options, one which became more of an issue when I started a new job. The job doesn’t easily accommodate me arriving sweaty and dressed for pedaling, and I frequently have to make unplanned “house calls” at the organization’s other locations around town. But it still doesn’t require a car when the weather’s decent. So I got a scooter for when a bike isn’t enough, the bus won’t work, but a car is too much. Plus, I’m finally making enough money that I can justify spending two and a half grand on a third vehicle. It doesn’t need to be super fast; a high-speed scooter would be “too much vehicle”. So I got a 2-stroke 50cc model, which has the added benefit of not requiring expensive insurance or taking a motorcycle instruction course. It immediately became my most-fun vehicle and quickly became my most-used. As it got on in miles (24,000), it started to show signs that I was using it a bit too much, so I upgraded to a 4-stroke 125cc, which I hope to last me for years to come.