Arrow-right Camera


Scooter convention really gets around

Mon., Sept. 10, 2007

Who wouldn’t want to get 70 miles to the gallon? Who doesn’t covet that primo parking space that not even a Mini Cooper can fit into?

Scooter drivers know the perks.

Scooters from across the Northwest rolled into Spokane over the weekend for three days of group rides, poker runs and Vespa chat during Spokane Scoot 2007, sponsored by a local scooter club, The Minions.

But then, scooters have been making inroads here for quite some time.

Smaller than motorcycles, scooters are less expensive and use less gas. Newer Vespas also have automatic transmissions, making them easy to ride. And they’re faster than older scooters, with more powerful models running as fast as 80 mph.

“Vespa is the Harley of the scooter world,” said Mike Cole, who sells Vespa scooters for Dollar Rent A Car.

Dollar operates the only two area Vespa dealerships, one in Spokane and one in Coeur d’Alene.

In the six months that Dollar has been dealing in Vespas, it’s sold more than 60, Cole said. A new one costs $3,800 to $7,000.

Vespas are the preferred scooters for most Minion club members, said Paul Oleniacz.

“I think the appeal is it’s going back to the retro styling,” Oleniacz said.

The design hasn’t changed much since the 1940s.

Riders should note that they will need a motorcycle endorsement to ride a scooter.

And a happy attitude doesn’t hurt.

“The Vespas turn heads,” said Oleniacz. “Everybody smiles. Everybody waves.”

New motorcycle school

For years motorcycle safety classes have been difficult to get into in Spokane.

Westside Motorsports classes often fill up months in advance.

But in July, a new Washington Department of Licensing-approved school opened in Spokane Valley.

Spokane MotorSchool offers safety training classes during the week and on weekends.

For more information, visit

Project delays

September is the time of year when patience with road construction starts to fade.

Three local projects are taking longer than expected and testing some drivers.

A private project that has closed 29th Avenue near Glenrose was supposed to be completed by the end of July. Then it was the end of August. Now, Spokane County Development Services Manager Matt Zarecor says it will be open by the end of the week. Probably, but no promises.

Southeast Boulevard work has stalled a bit because of recent Spokane City Council funding approval for bike lanes.

Some neighborhood residents protested losing parking space along the street, said Project Manager Steve Sather.

Three homes along Southeast Boulevard will be getting new driveways, courtesy of the city, because without the driveways the residents wouldn’t have a safe place to park, Sather said.

Southeast Boulevard should be reopened by the end of next week.

And in Browne’s Addition, work on Second Avenue took longer than expected because the contractor was tied up doing other work. Second wraps up this week, but work on First and Riverside avenues begins today, Sather said.

There will be no parking on those streets in Browne’s Addition for the next three weeks.

Connections at a new level

Microsoft’s Seattle-area operation, with its 35,000 or so employees, practically qualifies as a city, and now the company is offering a new city-like service – transit.

The company will provide 1,000 of its employees with bus service between Seattle and its Redmond campus, complete with power outlets and wireless Internet.

Free transportation is a great benefit, but cynics might note it’s just a way to get more work time out of employees.

Slow going


•Monroe Street is reduced to one lane in each direction on the north end of the bridge.

•In Browne’s Addition, First Avenue is closed from Maple Street to Poplar Street. Riverside Avenue is closed from Hemlock Street to the Marne Bridge. There is no parking along those streets or on Cannon Street between Pacific and Riverside avenues.

North Spokane

•Crestline Street is reduced to one lane in each direction from North Foothills Drive/Euclid Avenue to Wellesley Avenue for local access only. Other traffic is being detoured.

•Ash Street is closed from Francis Avenue to Northwest Boulevard.

South Spokane

•Southeast Boulevard is closed from Perry Street to Fifth Avenue.

Spokane Valley

•Broadway Avenue is closed between from Moore Street to Conklin Road until Sept. 21.

Amy Cannata can be reached at (509) 459-5497 or


Click here to comment on this story »