San Francisco: Scooter Girl, That’s Me

karen-on-scooterI got a scooter! Very exciting. Next step is to get rid of my car and I’ll be a thoroughly urban scooter girl. And for those of you who are wondering, when I absolutely need four wheels, I’ll grab them from either City Car Share or Zip Car, the two car-share programs that have done so well here in San Francisco.

As excited as I am about the new scoot – a Sym Fiddle, 125cc, for those who are interested – I can’t actually ride it yet. I don’t know about other states, but here in California you have to have a motorcycle license to ride a scooter, and before you get your motorcycle license everyone takes the Basic Rider Course at the Bay Area Motorcycle Training School. I finished the course today and passed the driving test (whew, it was a bit touch and go, to be honest), and now I have to tackle the written exam down at the lovely DMV.

photo courtesy of BAMT

photo courtesy of BAMT

This class was not for wimps. There was a ton of material to cover in three five-hour sessions. They move fast and you have to be FOCUSED. It’s extremely structured and they are very strict about how they move through the instruction and practice drills. But I was grateful for their zeal, as motorcycling (or in my case, scootering) is something to be taken very seriously and not for a minute did the instructors want any sort of relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. It bordered on militaristic. And thank goodness for that.

Even though I’ll be riding a scoot I still wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle, which I have to admit is pretty challenging. As you may know, motorcycles shift manually. You use both hands and feet to ride. There is a lot going on at once and the level of concentration it takes during the course is exhausting. But it’s completely worth it. I came away with a respect for both the upsides – and downsides – of riding, neither of which should ever be underestimated.

The course’s first session really beats into your head the dangers of riding. As they put it, “if it’s a bike versus a car, the car always wins.” They went over the stats of riding accidents as well as everything else you could imagine you need to know to stay safe on a bike. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people got so scared they didn’t return for the rest of the course.

So, now that I’ve passed the riding test, and know a LITTLE about operating a motorcycle, I realize I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it means to be a good rider. That will come after I have many miles under my belt. Until then I will be puttering around the quieter parts of town till my skills are a bit more solid. It will be a while before I venture downtown or feel ready to contend with rush hour drivers. But I am still thrilled about the convenience, economy, and fun that a scooter promises. Stay tuned for updates. And thank you BAMT.


Apologies for the quality of the photos; I was so excited I just used my iPhone.


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  4. Kirt Zimmer says:

    Very cool! I went through the same course with the same company a few months ago, before buying my motorcycle. The Bay Area has some great places to check out on two wheels. I hit up the PCH last weekend and it was amazing. Enjoy!

    • Hi Kirt, I don’t think I’ll be cruising PCH on my little 125cc scoot but I can look forward to the day. Geary Boulevard is scary enough :) !
      Enjoy and ride safely,

  5. Why thank you Cari!

  6. Wow, so cool. :) You look very chic on your new wheels! Have fun!

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