The Scooter Craze - Is This The World’s Cheapest Motorized Transportation?
by Phil Philcox

Up until recently, my wife and I carried a couple of bicycles on the deck of our boat and when we docked and got settled down, we pedaled our way to restaurants, attractions, supermarkets, doctors’ offices and other points as far from the marina as 2-3 miles. Getting around when you’re outside on land is a problem for a lot of boat owners who arrive with no land transportation and have to hitchhike or walk to a restaurant or grocery store. We recently bought two Zappy Scooters, 37-pound electric-powered, stand-up scooters that will cover about eight miles at 12-15 miles an hour. When the battery runs down, hopefully, you’re close enough to your dock to push it back to the AC power plug required to recharge it. Zappies come in a variety of colors (red, yellow, green, purple and black), so my wife choose the yellow to match her favorite dining-out outfit. I’m less adventurous and low-key, so I bought one in basic black. 

If you’ve been moving around without upon-arrival transportation, consider investing in a couple of these new human-powered or power-powered (electric or gasoline) scooters. Actually, they’re not very new. I had one years ago made out of a 2X4, an orange crate and an old roller skate split in half (one wheel up front, one wheel in the back). I rode that thing all over Brooklyn, New York for a couple of years back in the 40s until the wheels ground down to a nub and it refused to move no matter how hard I pushed with my foot. When I was old enough, I bought a car and forgot about scooters until just recently when I became a boating enthusiast.

The new scooters have been called skateboards with safety rails and inline skates with handlebars and are the latest fad in low-cost transportation. The are scooter clubs popping up all over and the Japanese have been riding around on them for years, the perfect solution to traffic jams in Tokyo. As a boater with water-only transportation, you might want to check them out. 

"The new models look a lot like the old 1940 scooters except for the sturdy, lightweight materials and the fact they can be powered by something other than your foot...and the price," says Mario Bertacoo of ZapWorld (ZAP stands for Zero Air Pollution) at ( - 800-251-4555). "They’re made of aluminum and other metals and sell for $99 if you’re willing to keep one foot on the ground and around $599 and up if you’re looking for an electric or gasoline boost. Some of the foot-on-the-ground models weigh under ten pounds or so and all collapse into a package no larger than a big submarine sandwich. The electric models are good for 8-15 miles of coverage before the battery needs charging, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead when you’re heading off on a two-wheeled excursion. With the wind at your back you can reach a speed of almost 15 miles an hour (wear a helmet). At night, you plug the battery in and somewhere around 6-12 hours later, it’s ready to push you another 8-15 miles." 

The gas models can be refueled anywhere, so theoretically, you can ride one from Florida to Nova Scotia if you’re into that kind of thing. With prices what they are, you can buy one for yourself and one for your mate.

Surprisingly, they’re easy to operate and if you had a manual scooter or rode a bike when you were a kid, you’ll probably have no problem staying upright and getting around. When you’re not using your scooter, it folds up and you can almost put it under your arm. With the electric models, there’s no gasoline or odors to deal with, no carburetors to gum up, no fuel tanks to keep topping off, and no pollution. As long as you watch your mileage, you’ll be fine. One electric scooter owner said he went off on an excursion, ran out of juice ten miles from home, folded the scooter up, stuffed it in its carry bag and grabbed a bus back to his house, plugged it in and started planning his next trip. Another user said she rides it regularly to the supermarket and actually cruises the aisles, dropping groceries in the basket attached to the handlebars. The machine is total quiet so if she keeps her speed down, she can almost go unnoticed as she loads up on vittles and heads for the check-out counter. In either case you certainly can’t beat the price for motorized transportation.

Riding around on two-wheels without the cost of filling up the gas tank is an interesting alternative to walking, pollution and noise and these little scooters fill the bill. 

Phil Philcox/editor
The Press Association
8213 Palm Cove Boulevard
Panama City Beach, FL 32408