February 26, 2003

My Personal Transportation Device

Sometime early in 2001, I became the proud owner of my own Personal Transportation Device, aka a moped. This little thing is one of my most prized possessions in Holland. Not because it has any monetary value, but because it's just so convenient for getting around.

Most people in Holland get around either with bikes or cars. I should probably do the true Dutch thing and take a bike. But its a right pain for hauling around a weeks groceries. I have two bikes anyway, but unfortunately I parked them in different places in Amsterdam and havent gotten around to fetching them. Last year I saw one still locked in the same spot I left it almost 3 years ago! Must be a record for Amsterdam.

I dont want to have a car here. The traffic is atrocious, the parking impossible, and petrol prices are through the roof. There is also that little matter of a legal driving license. As I have lived here for more than 6 months, my Aussie drivers license is no longer valid for driving in Holland. Funnily enough, I can drive in any other country in the world, just not the one where I live! I would need to get a local licence and retake a test to do so, at some not-so-insignificant cost. No thanks, I dont need a car that much.

So..enter the moped.

It is a highly useful form of transportation around here, and for me far more preferable to a car for various reasons which I will outline.

Traffic wise, they are generally not affected by jams, etc. They can be ridden around cars, on bicycle lanes, and pretty much anywhere you can fit them. Nothing better than whizzing past cars which have stopped, full of fuming drivers who would be better off crawling. To the uninitiated it sounds like a death trap. However, Holland being Holland, every has a bicycle, and so drivers know that two-wheeled machines are on the road. So you're not likely to get hit by a car unless the goon behind the wheel is a total moron.

For parking, they are even easier. they can be left just about anywhere that they're not in thw way (or in the way if you're feeling like a dick). Outside a shop, on a sidewalk (dont block people!), on the grass, in my basement. Wherever it will fit. And it doesnt cost anything to park it.

It costs almost nothing to feed. 5 litres of fuel (pre-mixed 2-stroke, available at your nearest service station) costs about $8 and it zooms me to and from the station for about 3 weeks.

Reliability on these machines is amazing. With occasional maintenance, they're energizer bunnies. They keep going, and going, and going.

Why go for anything else??

So I have decided to call my moped Amy, to give it some kind of personality. Why did I choose a female name, you say?? Well put it this way -- if I ever mention that "I took Boris out last night, and while I was riding him a rubber seal broke and he's now dripping", I really dont want that to be quoted out of context! Also, she has a strange habit of leaking something -- about once per month.

Posted by Ben at February 26, 2003 02:53 AM
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