But the larger issue is whether or not bikes are the right form of transport at all. A quick jaunt into Wellesley on a pleasant autumn afternoon might not be much, but lugging groceries in the summer or the rain quickly becomes less pleasant.
It's all rather frustrating because over the summer I've had the privilege of using Massachusetts' excellent train systems to get in and around Boston and even up to Portland, ME. Trains really are a fabulous invention. The Boston T is so much more civilized and timely than Pittsburgh's buses and traveling to Portland with AmTrak highlights how expensive, cramped, and inhumane airline travel has become.
So it is possible to travel far and wide on a pittance...if you can get to a train station. There is a commuter rail station but two miles away from Olin, but commuter rail is a little pricey, less regular, and doesn't stop in the most convenient places. The nearest T-stop is 4.5 miles away, a journey I experimentally determined is more than possible on a bike, but even on a perfect day weather-wise the roads made such a journey mildly inconvenient - I imagine it would be utterly intolerable once the weather goes bad or the sun goes down.
So I decided that after two years of college life being dependent on third-party transport I would make myself mobile. And after much deliberation I have purchased...a scooter!
|It needs a name - ideas?|
It's a 2009 Honda Metropolitan with 1270 miles. I bought it for $1600 from a very jovial man who oddly reminds me of my chemistry professor from Carnegie Mellon. He also threw in a helmet, gloves, a cover, trickle charger, and delivery. With the windscreen and trunk box, he paid $2700, so I'm thrilled. Not my favorite color, but it looks like the Vespa from Quadrophenia (yay Mods & Rockers!) and runs brilliantly.
Not that I've been riding it much. I thought that it would classify as a "motorized bicycle" under MA law and would therefore only need a registration sticker and I'd be off. Unfortunately, that it is not the case. It is apparently a "limited use motorcycle" due to its 40 mph top speed, so I need to register it as a motorcycle. And get a motorcycle license. Bollocks.
The immediate problem following this was that I needed a parking permit to park at Olin. Which requires a license plate number. Which requires registration. Which requires insurance. None of which I had. So I will take care of all that at my leisure in the last month of summer and hopefully find a way of getting a motorcycle license or endorsement in AZ so I don't have to find out what "proof of MA residency" entails. In the meantime, my scooter has been safely hidden somewhere away from Olin's parking lots.
Whilst frustrating and creating much more of a hassle than I had bargained for, I am very excited about what I'll be able to do with it over the next three years. Boston is such a brilliant city and you can get all over it thanks to the T, but Eliot station has always been that little bit too far away. Now I'l be able to go places when I want, rather than begging people for rides. Even the thought of simply not having to pedal up hills too & from Wellesley is charming.
As I've mentioned in an Olin blog post (coming soon!), I don't think personal transport matters much at Olin in your first year since you are so busy and unaware of what is outside the Olin bubble. Whilst I hate the Pittsburgh bus system, I'll concede that having our CMU IDs double as bus passes and having a stop 200 yards from my dorm is hard to argue with in terms of convenience. We'll see how my new scooter doubles. If you didn't bother reading the caption, it does need a name. Thoughts?