ByJustin Gammill

May 8, 2014


My quest to reduce my carbon footprint down from something resembling a mammoth track had led me down these dark alleys to an 8-foot tall steel door. Quick glances down either side of the street confirmed that I was alone. I knocked hard and almost instantly a slat in the door opened to reveal a set of spectacled eyes. “Password?” the voice asked. I stammered with nervous intent, “Well, I … uhhh …I mean, I heard it was Daft Punk”. Their eyebrows furrowed for a moment as the eyes glanced me up and down. The slat slammed closed. “I blew it,” I thought, as I turned to walk away, but then I heard the sound of a heavy lock disengaging and the door creaked. I was in …

As I walked in, all heads swiveled in my direction and gazes were placed upon me. Through the e-cig vapor haze, I assessed the room. Ray Ban eyeglass frames. Wool knit caps. Scarves, so damn many scarves. The wearers of these hipster trademarks were all either straddling or standing next to their scooters eyeballing me. I was in the belly of the beast known as the Moped Underground …

Rewind a few days; I’m walking down a midtown street on my way to a neighborhood pub for a cold draft beer and a gang of these motoring, moped miscreants almost runs me over on their way to some coffee house that offers free Wi-Fi for their MacBooks. It wasn’t the idea of someone reading “killed by a scooter” in my obituary that infuriated me quite as much as the billowing grey smoke from their little tailpipes as they rode away.

So now that I was entrenched in the Moped Underground, it was time to get to the heart of the matter: how much of a polluter are these scooters? In the U.S., the emissions regulations for 2 stroke motors versus a standard gasoline engine allows for 5.7 times more CO2 emissions, 24 times more hydrocarbon emissions and currently have no limits on NOx emissions. Carbon footprint? It sounds like these 2-wheeled devils create a carbon mud hole.

But then I considered the fact that the “Carbon Footprint” is actually a function of gas mileage. Take a full-sized SUV for instance; even though it has lower emissions, it has a third of the gas mileage of a moped. Therefore, its carbon footprint is much larger. Also, if you factor in the carbon footprint required to build an SUV, all of the sudden the moped numbers look great. Here I was thinking that the moped hellions were scooter polluting, when in fact they are doing good by mother earth. Now if only I could convince these guys to quit wearing wool knit caps when it’s 92 degrees outside, we’d be making real progress.

By Justin Gammill

He is "stealthy like a ninja at midnight, yet brazen like a champion Mexican fighting chicken". Justin Gammill approaches his topics in a manner that provokes thought, laughter, and the occasional “did he just say that?”. Chances are, yes, he most certainly did just say that. So, buckle up … you never know where the train of thought is going.