Despite a change in leadership, New York City has continued to confiscate and destroy motorcycles officials have deemed illegal. Pioneered by ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio (formerly Warren Wilhelm Jr.), the practice has been continued by Eric Adams. In fact, the new mayor was so enthusiastic about the trend that the city held a press event where a bulldozer crushed over one-hundred bikes as he waved a checkered flag — effectively turning them all into garbage in a matter of seconds.
As a motorcycle enthusiast and recovering New Yorker myself, this story has been one your author has followed since the beginning as an excuse to professionally gripe about something personal. The city set out to confiscate dirt bikes and ATVs that are relatively common to see (and hear) zipping through traffic or cluttering sidewalks. De Blasio even made it one of his biggest traffic-enforcement initiatives in 2021, adding a bit of spectacle to the new vehicle bans. However, a cursory examination of the vehicles involved has shown a significant number of vehicles being destroyed are regular motorcycles that would have been legal under NYC law and all-electric scooters used by low-income commuters and restaurant delivery services.
Car companies sometimes find themselves with odd bedfellows, a situation which can result in the strangest of collabs. Witness the penchant of some brands to slap their name on a bicycle, such as the McLaren Venge of a decade ago which actually incorporated some of Macca’s expertise in composite construction to result in a bike one-fifth lighter than anything the cycling manufacturer could achieve on its own.
This time around, it’s Jeep and Razor working together to create the Jeep RX200 electric scooter. Your author deeply hopes it is available to navigate through Hell’s Revenge at Moab during this year’s Easter Safari. Hey, it does say Trail Rated, right?
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made dirt bikes public enemy number one for traffic enforcement in 2021, citing road safety, cluttered sidewalks, unwanted noise, and air pollution as his primary reasoning. He’s even released videos where the city destroyed confiscated bikes to celebrate the initiative.
“Anyone out there who has an illegal dirt bike — don’t even think about it. Because the NYPD will find it and will crush it,” Mayor de Blasio proclaimed via Twitter earlier this month. “These dirt bikes do not belong in New York City. It’s against the law. Period. Dirt bikes are dangerous.”
The focus on two-wheeled transportation comes after city leadership announced there was a growing number of shootings and robberies tied to certain types of vehicles over the spring. Local outlets also covered an incident where a small child was struck by a dirt bike and placed into critical condition last July. But the actual qualifications for what NYC considers an “illegal dirt bike” are confusing. Numerous exemptions are made for electric scooters and about half of the bikes crushed in the mayor’s video are regular motorcycles. It seems nonsensical and only gets worse when you begin to ponder the consequences of banning some of the most affordable modes of transportation available to poor New Yorkers.
Over the last two years, urban landscapes have been marred by a growing number of companies offering street-side scooters for rent. The business model always seemed a little curious, especially as additional players moved into the market. It wasn’t long before plenty of cities had their sidewalks littered with scooters in various states of disrepair and thrill-seekers were using them to dive through traffic, thus frustrating motorists.
They also have to be shared with your neighbors, making them none-too-appeasing in an era where everyone is obsessively washing their hands to avoid the coronavirus. Combine that with cities asking (sometimes demanding) that citizens remain indoors and you can probably guess where this is all going. Scooter providers, already in the delicate position of being “mobility” companies, are reeling things back in.
Last November, the world learned that both General Motors and Ford planned to enter the field of two-wheeled transportation as part of their new identity as “mobility” companies. Ford chose to purchase electric scooter startup Spin, whereas GM wanted to mass produce two e-bikes intended for direct sale. However, not much was known about the actual product, where they would be made available, or what the company intended to call them.
That changed Thursday, when GM announced its electric bicycles will carry the brand name “Ariv” (styled as ARĪV by the company) and commence sales within Europe in the second quarter of 2019. Customers have a choice between a compact e-bike and an even smaller, foldable one for a little more money.
Considering how much the authors on this website like to rag on rental scooters (which are an unholy menace), we’re glad to see General Motors take this route. Love or hate them, bicycles are better solutions for urban transport than standing scooters, and encouraging people to own them means fewer e-vehicles littering the sidewalk.
We were wrong. There will be a new Ford-offered vehicle slotted below the EcoSport for the low-income/urban greenie crowd. It’s not very aerodynamic or powerful, but that won’t matter, as you’ll never own it.
Yes, it’s a scooter. A Spin scooter, to be clear, and it’s poised to mingle with Birds and Limes on a congested roadway or sidewalk near you. Ford Motor Company has agreed to buy the San Francisco-based startup for a healthy sum, all part of its efforts to break into the “micromobility” arena. A massive roll-out starts today.
“Peace is not absence of conflict,” Ronald Reagan once said, “it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
And so it goes on the world’s roadways, highways, and, depending on your relationship with the neighbors, driveways. After the engineers are done gauging line of sight, measuring stopping distances, and calculating the necessary roadway width and angle for safe passage of a vehicle travelling the speed limit, we’re left to battle it out on the infrastructure laid out for us by city planners.
It’s a lot of responsibility. Maybe one day, perhaps sooner than we think, we’ll look back on such times and wonder how our betters at city hall or the legislature allowed us the ability to fend for ourselves on the road. Men and women, children and youth. Each depending on the closest person in their vicinity to not kill them.
Inevitably, conflict arises. And, increasingly (or so it seems) we’re facing conflict between motorists and a new breed of traveller: the disruptor.
“The kapchai menace must be stopped.” The fellow who shared that particular opinion in a major Malaysian newspaper will no doubt find that many people agree with him. I can see his point; after spending much of the last two weeks driving across Malaysia and Thailand I have come to loathe the sight of the things.
There is no gap in Kuala Lumpur’s molasses-like traffic so small that it will not immediately be filled with a swarm of the little motorcycles. Every lane change has to be accompanied by a constant iguana-eye monitoring of all four sides of one’s automobile lest it inadvertently lead to manslaughter — or worse yet, family-slaughter, since it’s common to see up to four people crowded onto a kapchai‘s thinly padded seat.
Yet the kapchai is the sole “mobility option” for millions of low-income people across Southeast Asia. The very best of them, the bad-ass 100-mph five-speed Yamahas and Hondas in their Repsol or Petronas liveries, cost about $2,100 brand new. The rest of them can be seen at roadside dealers in serviceable condition for between $300 and $500. Adjusted for local currency, they’re about the cost of a hundred meals sold by a roadside vendor. Imagine that you could solve your personal transportation needs for the cost of a hundred Big Macs, and you can easily see the appeal. If you then use the kapchai for a little smash-and-grab urban robbery, as many people do, it pays for itself very quickly. If you don’t… well, the operating costs are still very low.
I’d guess that about 95 percent of you are now asking yourselves, “So what exactly is a kapchai, anyway?” The best way to understand it: the kapchai is a kangaroo, and the kapchai is also a Toyota SUV. I’ll explain, of course.
Beef Duty May Join Chicken Tax in the Barnyard, Would Raise Price of Euro Scooters and Motos 100 Percent
Much to the chagrin of a couple of generations of small truck enthusiasts on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, the United States got into a bit of a trade tiff with France and Germany over a protectionist tariff the European countries had placed on imports of American chicken in the early 1960s. The result was a 25-percent tariff levied on potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks imported into the U.S. Brandy was listed to retaliate against the French while the light truck duty targeted commercial versions of the VW Type II.
Due to another trade dispute over a different foodstuff, in this case beef, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (OUSTR) has proposed a 100% tariff on small to medium displacement motorcycles and scooters manufactured in the European Union. Motorcycles and scooters from 50 to 500 cc displacement were tucked in at the end of a long list of beef, pork, and other food products covered under the proposed duties.
The need to expand automotive brands while improving fuel economy is driving automakers to some interesting lengths of late. From GM future concepts that have more in common with a Segway than a Cruze, to Honda’s U-3X and Chrysler’s ill-fated PeaPod, automakers are sending strong hints that the future will be smaller and decidedly less car-like. And MINI and Smart recently took this trend to its logical conclusion, each announcing that they would build (or, more precisely, re-brand) scooters… or as they call them, “alternative mobility concepts.” Which raises the question: what’s a scooter brand to do? Well, Piaggio, maker of the Vespa and other scooter-based “alternative mobility concepts” isn’t going to just drone off into that good night, and it’s fighting back by creating an “alternative” to its core scooter products: a four wheeled car-like “mobility concept.”
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