Why don’t we see more people using scooters in South Africa

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Kymco Downtown 300i
Kymco Downtown 300i

I am currently looking at buying myself a scooter, which I wrote about in my blog post called ” Scooting around for a good deal”

This made me think about what I saw when I was working in Uganda. Their streets were filled with scooters, which they call boda-boda, and I started to wonder why we don’t see more people using scooters here in South Africa?


I am sure you have seen visuals of ordinary people driving around in scooters in the rest of Africa and Asia. In fact, I have even seen some crazy images of whole families all on one motorbike or scooter.

Here in South Africa, we see motorbikes and scooters differently because of how we have been introduced to them.

I normally associate scooters with the following:

Fast food delivery guys

Office document delivery guys

Blood delivery guys

More recently, I have started seeing more middle class high school kids riding scooters to school. Then there is the Cape Town yuppie image of the cool dudes and girls zipping along Camps Bay on their trendy Vespas.

With the faster motorbikes, I tend to associate it with the following:

Speed and adrenaline junkies on their fast super bikes

The middle class okes going through a midlife crisis on their Harley motor bikes.

It is funny that I have not thought of a scooter as a viable means of daily transport for myself. Growing up and using the trains and mini bus taxis, I saw buying a car as a sign of my growth, success and as a status symbol. It also gave me a sense of freedom and relief from using public transport. 

When I think back on my life decisions, I realised that my first big high purchase item was my first car. If I took the time, I would have easily saved enough money in the first 4 to 6 months to buy a little scooter.

I can’t help but wonder that, if more Blue Collar workers saw scooters as a better option than commuting by mini bus taxis, how it would impact on the growth of individuals.
I spoke to some people who own motorbikes, and some of them mentioned that when they first started to ride a bike, it was one with a smaller engine, and then they progressed to what they are riding now.

This would then imply that if White and Blue Collar workers start off with a scooter with the money they saved from their first job, they would probably want to move up to the bigger bikes, which cost more than their scooters.

Therefore, they would hopefully look for ways to improve their work situation via studying etc. to earn and save the money needed to get a new, bigger and faster motorbike.

I am sure by now, some of you are probably thinking that masses of people riding recklessly on our roads is nothing to look forward to, especially if you think of our current corrupt drivers and vehicle licencing scandals. I don’t blame you, but I guess that all we can do is hope this does not happen.

It was very encouraging to see an article entitled “Alexandra gets its first motorbike dealership.” Hopefully it is sign of the change that needs to happen for the large number of mini bus taxi commuters.


One thought on “Why don’t we see more people using scooters in South Africa

    Tony McGurk said:
    November 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Here in Australia scooters seem to be seen by a lot of men as more for women & learners. “Real men ride big bikes” seems to be the regular way of thinking by many. When I got my scooter 3 years ago a lot of people asked me why I didn’t get a “real” bike. I didn’t want or need one. My 125 scooter costs me around $6 a fortnight to run for commuting to work & around town on weekends while I leave the car home for my wife’s use while I’m at work. My last bike, a Yamaha XJ650 would’ve probably used that much petrol in a day or two. In the past I’ve had my share of big bikes but now at age 53 my scooter suits my needs just fine.

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