These scooter riders are happy to stay in the slow lane

For some, there is no better feeling than hitting the road on two wheels.

Hollywood captured him in the movie Easy Rider, actor Ewan McGregor captured him with his friend and motorcyclist fanatic Charley Boorman on epic rides across the continent for their television series Long Way Round and Low Way Down.

The Hobart Motor Scooter Club, however, operates on a much more relaxed schedule.

On a Sunday morning, once a month, club members meet in Salamanca Square for a quiet coffee and chat before heading to a destination outside of Hobart.

Sharon Heritage is the founding member and president of the club.

“It started in 2002 when I had my L’s and wanted other people to be able to ride with them,” she said.

“I just put an ad in the local newspaper to see what interest there was, and there was enough to start something.”

There are now 30 members in good standing.

A group of Vespas belonging to the Hobart Motor Scooter Club.(

ABC News: Michael Dalla Fontana


Sharon’s admiration for all things scooters stems from her interest in 1960s Mod era music.

She owns six predominantly vintage Vespa scooters: a Vespa Super, a 1965 50S, a 1967 Super Sprint 90, a 1973 Vespa Primavera 125 and a 1968 Super Sport 180.

She describes her 2002 PX-200 as her most “comfortable” scooter and the one she uses the most. She traveled approximately 116,000 kilometers.

This is the scooter she borrows for national scooter rallies.

With Hobart’s clubbing, it’s like a roll of the dice when it comes to deciding where to go.

“I have a shopping list that we have done in the past and I alternate them every year with new ones every now and then,” she said.

Some rides are night business.

Vespas lined up in a Hobart lane
The club always loads up on caffeine before a race.(

ABC News: Michael Dalla Fontana


“Places like Bicheno or Tarraleah. Our day walks are usually no further than towns like Orford or Geeveston,” she said.

At 86, former London Metropolitan and Tasmanian Police Officer David Sowerby is the club’s oldest member.

The man from Midway Point who immigrated to Australia with his wife and family in 1966 has been cycling for 70 years. He joined the club four years ago.

“I love the camaraderie, the common interest and the exhilaration of two-wheeled transport,” he said.

“In the 90s, as a member of the Ulysses Club, I made the round trip to Toowoomba in Queensland,” said David.

Originally from Launceston, Pam Genders, 71, has lived in Hobart since the early 1980s.

David Sowerby, oldest member of the Hobart Motor Scooter Club
At 86, David Sowerby is the club’s oldest member.(

ABC News: Michael Dalla Fontana


She got her motorcycle license in her early twenties while driving – as she puts it – her little Honda, around Launceston.

“It was around the time when the police were just saying to go around the block,” she said.

“And when I got home he said, ‘Well, you can get your license now’.”

After a long hiatus, Pam only returned to two wheels at the age of 67, when she joined the Hobart Motor Scooter Club.

“People are wonderful, they can’t do enough to help you, it’s just a wonderful place to get involved,” she said.

A vintage Vespa scooter
Vespas have recently seen a resurgence in popularity.(

ABC News: Michael Dalla Fontana


Last year Pam drove a Vespa from Paris to Belfast for a big scooter rally.

“I picked up a scooter in Paris and rode all over Britain all the way to Ireland, an absolutely fantastic rally. I made fantastic friends all over the world thanks to the scooter group,” she said. .

Last year she also joined three club members on a scooter rally in Canberra.

“We did 4000 kilometers in 10 days. It was pretty good,” she said.

She said the Vespa was a bit heavy for her, so she went for an Aprilia Scarabeo 125cc which had large wheels.

She now rides on a Scarabeo 200cc.

Wheel of a scooter
The club has been in existence for 17 years.(

ABC News: Brian Tegg


And what about the regular grunts of rush hour traffic in Hobart?

Club president Sharon Heritage believes more scooters and motorcycles on the road is the answer.

“Channel filtering [driving between two lanes of traffic] has been an important development, even if some motorists do not seem to be aware that it is now legal, ”she laments.

But she admits that getting a motorcycle license is much more complex and expensive these days.

Michael Dalla Fontana on his Vespa
Journalist Michael Dalla Fontana recently joined the club and took his vintage Vespa scooter on a 40 kilometer race.(

ABC News


Car title loans are just as predatory as payday loans, says Pew report | Economic news

auto title loans

Neon signs glow in the windows of a car title shop. (Photo “Car Title Loans” by Jo Naylor available under Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution license)

According to a new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The report, released on Wednesday, March 25, found that auto title loans result in skyrocketing fees and ballooning payments, the same characteristics that make payday loans so difficult to repay.

According to the report, consumers who take out a $1,000 auto title loan end up paying around $1,200 in fees over a year.

Title loans incur even higher costs than payday loans,” Nick Bourke, director of Pew’s Small Dollar Lending Project, said in a statement. “And borrowers face the added risk of losing an asset – their car – which for some is their primary means of transportation.”

The Pew report comes as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau considers new rules targeting payday loans and possibly other high-cost small loans. The agency will put its proposals online on Thursday.

Last year, Louisiana lawmakers killed several bills seeking to impose limits on payday loans.

Payday loans are secured by the consumer’s next paycheque. With auto title loans, consumers borrow against the value of a car they have paid for and own. The lender takes the title as security and the borrower keeps the car.

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Title and payday loans are advertised as short-term loans with fixed costs. But Pew found a much different reality in Louisiana and the 25 states where title lenders operate.

Pew found that the typical borrower made around $30,000 a year. Most are struggling to pay their bills on time and a third have no other working vehicle in their household.

The average lump sum payment on a title loan consumed half of a borrower’s monthly net pay each month. The typical annual percentage rate reached 300 percent.

Ultimately, more than 120,000 borrowers, or 5%, lose their cars to title lenders in any given year, the report says.

The report urges regulators to place “reasonable limits” on the cost and duration of loans.

Pew said lenders should be required to determine if a borrower can afford to make payments before approving an auto title loan. Fees should be spread over the life of a loan instead of being stacked at the start, which encourages repeat borrowing, the report says.

Other findings from the Pew report:

  • Half of borrowers use title loans to cover day-to-day expenses, such as rent, not an unexpected emergency cost.

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