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Scooting along 

Scooters and motorcycles save gas, but are other drivers considerate?

Gas prices are reaching heavenly proportions -- if they get any higher we're all going to need Jesus and a collection plate to fill up.

Local gas prices average about $4.10 per gallon, so it makes sense that Charlotteans would find cheap way to get around. For those not wanting to take light rail or the bus, scooters and motorcycles are another way to cut costs.

Sales at Vespa of Charlotte are up 365 percent over last year, owner Stephen Speer said. "A scooter has finally become an acceptable means of transportation," he said.

But societal acceptance doesn't mean car drivers are making it easy for people tooling around on two wheels.

J.R. Black has been riding his "grown-man bike" since his family gave him a Suzuki Intruder for Father's Day. "It's freedom," he said. "I ride it to work, to run errands. I love it."

But what he doesn't love so much is sharing the road with drivers who seem to disregard him because he's on two wheels and not four.

"People really don't know motorcycle etiquette, they don't signal, and they wait until they get up on you, and then they get over on you," Black said. "My mother used to say, 'You have to drive for yourself and everyone else on the road.' So, that's what I do."

The risks are worth the reward, Black said, because for $10 he can fill up his motorcycle and ride for 100 miles or more.

Before he got the motorcycle, he was putting gas in a Yukon XL SUV, a Lexus, a Toyota Avalon and a van.

"Even though it's hot [outside], I feel good because I'm saving a lot of money," he said.

Amy Weinstock, an Uptown banker, is also saving money by riding her scooter to work from her home in Cotswold.

"I was driving a gas-guzzling SUV," she said. "It would cost me $100 a week to fill up my tank."

Now Weinstock fills up her tank for about nine dollars and parks for free outside her office. Because she doesn't have to spend part of her morning looking for a spot in the parking deck, and then walking from the deck to the building, she gets to the office sooner.

Anyone riding a scooter or bike can lock it up on the side walk in front of most Uptown office buildings.

The scooter has been good to Weinstock's wallet, but what about her morning drive? Has that been made easier as well? She says yes, though a car once pulled out in front of her scooter.

"Drivers have been nice for the most part," she said.

She thinks that her unique look has a lot to do with how she gets treated.

"I have this mop of long blond hair underneath this helmet and I think people are like, 'There goes Amy on her scooter,'" she said with a laugh.

That doesn't mean Weinstock doesn't have a bit of concerns about some drivers on the road ­-- namely the buses.

"That's my only worry," she said.

Buses, according to Weinstock, will sometimes cut you off when you're driving a car. On a scooter, she said the buses may not see you before getting in front of you.

If you're thinking about getting a scooter, but wonder how fast it can go, realize that you can move on one of those bikes.

According to The Go Store, a Web-based scooter store, the average scooter can go up to 70 miles an hour.

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