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June 2006

If man were meant to walk, we'd all be living closer together

Scar250b

So it finally happens. I'm walking up my mile long street to get some groceries, tired of waiting for the bus.  I could take the bike out again but its not worth the effort with what I can fit in a backpack.  Then I start thinking of the plan I once had to get a scooter.  What ever happened to that?  I start thinking about it some more and forget why I put it on hold.  After a year of being a pedestrian, my feet are reminding me that pavements are hard, hills always seem to go up, and waiting on a timetable sucks.

I finally get to the grocery and remember hearing about a scooter shop that opened in Cremorne, near where I live.  Before I do any errands, I decide to take a side trip to look for it.  I grab a coffee and go for a walk.  It turns out it's just down the street from the grocery.  Looking through the closed shop's windows, I see a variety of the typical Vespas along with Bolwell, Piaggio, Bolwell and Aprilia scooters.  All of them pointed at the windows looking back at me, mockingly. 

I spend some time finishing my coffee, staring back at them.  Go to another window and stare some more.  Eventually, I decide it's time to check this out.  I get the stores hours and head back to do my errands.  Being a weekend at the time, they weren't open that early in the morning.

Back home I start to do my homework on what's available in Sydney for scooters.  What's the best size bike.  What's the style that looks good.  What do I need to get a license.  Alot of choices and more questions than answers seem to come up.

I didn't make it back to the shop that weekend but did finally get there during the week.  The owner was great answering my questions and didn't even push a sale on me.  He just asked what I was looking for and made some suggestions on what he thought I'd like.  With a handful of brocures and some more homework to do, I said I'd give him a call later.

A week goes by and I get wrapped up in work and other things but always go back to the scooter idea whenever I have to wait for the ferry or catch a bus.  I look up whenever I hear a motorcycle or a scooter zip by.  So the idea is starting to cement itself into my daily routine.

More scooter shopping over through the week and I decide Friday to call the RTA, Roads and Traffic Authority, to see about getting my license.

Friday/Day 1:
Call RTA, get info and figure out what I need to get motorcycle license.

Monday/Day 4: 
Take proof of residence, US license, and passport to the RTA.
Fill out paperwork.
Take quick vision test. 
Pay fee.
Have driving test waived due to prior driving experience. 
Get spiffy new NSW car license. ($40)
Immediately, sign up for Learners training program for motorcycles.  ($68)
Class date: Aug 10 and 11th.
Head back to work

Tuesday/Day 5:
Call RTA to check on any cancellations with other training centres to see if I can have current program moved up from original August dates.

Surprised to hear that someone cancelled  and that dates just opened up for the same centre I was planning to go to. (available dates being that Wed and Thurs)

Check with boss to see I can take the afternoons off for tomorrow and next day.
Good to go, call back RTA and confirm booking.

Wednesday/Day 6:
Make it to St. Ives. (about 40 minutes north of the city centre)

Start the afternoon class at the H.A.R.T centre.  Honda Australian Roadcraft Training.

Learn proper riding techniques, hang out with 4 other people in my class and try not to run into each other.

Thursday/Day 7:
Head back to St. Ives for the second day of training and alot more riding.
Spend more time than the other riders trying to remember to pass on the right.
Complete the training and receive certificate of completion.

Head back home, (Thankfully I didn't have to catch the train or taxi like I did to get to class.  I caught a ride back to Neutral Bay with one of my classmates, Joan.  Much appreciated, since it's been raining hard all week.)

Arrive home and cram for the RTA knowledge test.  I thought I'd take it next Monday but after looking at the handbook questions and realizing it's basically common sense, I decided to try and take it Friday.

Friday/Day 8:
Stop by the RTA over my lunch break. 

My numbers called and by chance I get the same woman that helped me get my car license on Monday.  She remembers me and is surprised to see I'm back already. 
I ask for the Learners knowledge test and confirm it's for a learner's motorcycle (automatic) license.

She hooks me up with the test after I pay my test fee. $57

45 questions about driving in New South Wales later and I pass my test.  I actually didn't miss a question, so I felt pretty good about understanding all the regs and laws.
She hands me my 'L''s (paper card to be displayed on my bike signifying I'm a learner)

One mugshot later and I have my combined car license with learner's cycle license. Adding new motorcycle license to car license. $17

Total cost: $182AU  ($133US)

More details to follow, now I just need something to ride...