It is difficult to find statistics that present a precise answer, but Italy is a good bet. There were 9,913,525 motorcycles of all types (including scooters) on the road in Italy in 2006, far dwarfing Germany, the next country on the list with 5,562,469. Anyone who has been to Rome, for instance, will immediately note the fact that motor scooters outnumber automobiles by a significant margin, especially at rush hours. These stats don’t tell us how many people use their motorcycles for commuting as opposed to other uses, but chances are it’s a very substantial number. Scooter commuting is feasible in large European cities such as Rome, Berlin and Paris because the cities themselves are geographically compact and the availability of automobile parking is very limited, which is why the Smart Car is also popular in Europe.
There is some indication that scooter commuting may have the potential to catch on in the United States as gas prices rise and traffic increases. 2004, for example, saw a 21% increase in motor scooter sales in the U.S. As in Europe and densely-populated cities in Asia, however, the logistics and economics of scooter commuting tend to pencil out more easily in compact crowded places like Manhattan and San Francisco than in sprawling suburbs. For example, don’t hold your breath that scooter commuting will become the rage in Houston or Phoenix.
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