Suddenly, we all love scooters and motorcycles; better mileage, easier to park, and oh, so sexy. Unfortunately, if you think they're also better for the environment, you are in for a disappointment.
In 2002 the EPA
recently found that a Yamaha YXR YZF R6 (a very high-performance sport motorcycle) puts out 90 times the hydrocarbons of a Dodge Durango SUV. The reason? Scoots and cycles aren't held to the same standards as cars and trucks. They don't, for example, have catalytic convertors. A 2005 Swiss study found that 20% of nitrous oxide emissions there were coming from two-wheelers. It also concluded that these vehicles put out 2.7 times the carbon dioxide and 16 times the hydrocarbons of cars, in urban environments. The EPA states that a motorcycle emits as much hydrocarbon in 10 miles as a car driven 850 miles.
Even worse are the increasingly uncommon two-stroke engines still in operation on scooters and motorcycles, which burn oil along with gas and are notorious polluters. Also adding to the problem are illegal imports making their way into the country, thanks to booming demand, imports that don't even meet the rather generous federal standards currently in place.
Perhaps we'll soon see a new bumper sticker, much too long for the fender of a two-wheeler: Give a hoot, don't pollute. Park the scoot.