Scooter Therapy stalled by recession, bureaucracy
MADISON – Scooter Therapy is an icon within scooter culture, to those Madisonians "in the know" and to a large number of UW-Madison students and graduates.
The Madison-based seller and repairer of scooters and mopeds since 1991 actually began in a field between Waunakee and Dane.
"It was hard to get dealer treatment from parts reps in those days," says Scooter Therapy owner Randy Knudson. "One that I called came out, took one step out of his car, looked at all the mud between where he parked and my shed, got back in and drove away."
The wood sign with red letters that read, "Knudson's Scooter Therapy" which used to be on that shed now hangs in a corner of the North Few Street shop. Decorated on the roof and in the yard with hand-built "robots" and metal spiders, the otherwise unassuming and out-of-the-way building a half block off busy Washington Avenue is the second Madison space inhabited by Scooter Therapy.
Knudson was born in La Crosse and moved to Madison in 1985. He's been a mechanic his whole life, working on cars and motorcycles, in addition to scooters in what he calls, "the niche nobody wanted.
"At bike (motorcycle) shops, scooter people get driven over or chased with a bat," he says.
Knudson opened his scooter shop intending to one day get back into motorcycles, but the pull of steady, year-round work was ultimately too great.
"Motorcycle riders park their bikes (at) the first sign of winter. Scooter people are different, they need transportation," says Knudson.
Scooter Therapy sells Genuine-brand scooters with model names like Buddy, Stella, Rough Rider and Blur.
The Taiwan manufacturer offers the best scooter quality, according to Knudson, and this is the only brand he sells, although Scooter Therapy services all makes.
"About 80 percent of our service work is on bikes bought elsewhere, almost exclusively online," says Knudson.
He says online scooters are "half the cost and twice the headache" and recommends that scooter buyers everywhere carefully read the warranty, which often does not include labor costs for repairs.
"It really is a 'buyer beware' market. If a deal sounds too good to be true, then it is," says Knudson.
Scooter Therapy sells all its two-wheelers with an included two-year parts and labor warranty.
Most scooters have engine sizes that are 50cc and under, which according to law can be driven by people with regular drivers licenses. Two-wheel vehicles that have larger engines require a motorcycle endorsement.
The average 50cc scooter allows the rider to keep up with city traffic. Scooter riders in Madison ride year-round and scooters are often many residents' only motorized transportation, being more economical than a car with lower purchase, maintenance and insurance costs.
The Genuine Buddy model sold at Scooter Therapy gets 140 miles to the gallon.
Although mopeds and scooters have long been a mainstay in the Madison traffic scene, along with cars, buses and bicycles, not everyone is happy about it. Knudson says it's rumored that Madison Mayor Paul Soglin "doesn't like scooters" and it's ruining his business.
Knudson says the mayor's office is pressuring UW-Madison administration to make changes to its scooter policy.
On May 1, UW-Madison transportation services informed students and Madisonians in general of proposed changes to its parking policies that would allow scooters to be parked in only one campus lot beginning fall semester.
A Facebook group was recently started to "save the scooters."
The proposal signals a fairly drastic change in policy toward scooters and mopeds, which UW-Madison students have used to get around the sprawling campus for decades.
"Students often only have 15 minutes between classes; they rely on scooters and bicycles to get from one building to the next," says Knudson.
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Sorry to hear that JeffJay. For whatever reason the populous is in a huge hurry to get absolutely nowhere. People need to be more courteous to scooter commuters. I've never had one but I would like to say that people need to give ample space to people on two wheels. The article made me pause with it's comment on the MPG. That is pretty awesome. Not sure if I would trust other commuters though. People are reckless, always in a rush and very rarely paying attention. So many people staring at smart phones when they should be driving.
Beware the scooter! I would make you a bet that I can increase traffic speed on any major street by simply driving 5 miles over the speed limit. Automobile drivers simply can't believe, regardless what their speedometer tells them, that they aren't stuck behind some kid on a scooter, plodding along at less than their god given right to proceed without obstruction. They will pass me on the left or right with a glare that matches my mother when she caught me sneaking a snack before dinner. FYI; Technically you can not ride anyone on your 50cc bike without a motorcycle license. However, when I took my moped to the license bureau to get my motorcycle endorsement they wouldn't let me take the test on a moped.
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