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The Police War on the Scooter Menace

Veni, vidi, Vespas.


The détente between the NYPD and the city’s burgeoning scooter-riding population is over. For years, scooter owners parked on sidewalks and simply removed their Velcro’d license plates to avoid tickets. Cops didn’t seem to care. But now they do. They towed 24 scooters and motorcycles (at $100 a tow) near Grand Central and issued at least 87 summonses (about $115 a ticket) in a single day last month. “Why don’t the cops go after the fucking SUVs from Jersey?” grouses Steven Balinsky, whose red, white, and green Vespa was towed. In response to the NYPD crackdown, legendary Italian scooter maker Vespa has approached former city traffic commissioner “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz to plead its case for Euro-style two-wheel parking spots. Scooter owners are conflicted about that, though. “I certainly don’t want to have to feed any meters,” says Allison Watters, co-founder of the New York Scooter Club.

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