When the sun finally made an appearance on Wednesday, I was strolling down the street in Newport, R.I., when a couple went whizzing past in what looked like a grown-up Soapbox Derby racer. Their silver hair stuck out from under their helmets and fluttered in the breeze. Then another racer came by, this time with a 25-ish couple smiling big enough to get bugs in their teeth if the vehicle could go fast enough. I followed the curious vehicles to their lair, which turned out to be Scooter World (9 Christie's Landing, 401-619-1349, scooterworldri.com).
Officially, the vehicles are called Scoot Coupes, and they're sold by Panther Motors in Florida. Unofficially, Scooter World calls the 50cc-powered, three-wheel two-seaters "Trikes" and rents them out for $50 for the first hour, $35 for each additional hour. Rhode Island law requires the driver to hold a valid driver's license (but not a motorcycle license), for passengers to wear helmets, and both passenger and driver to wear protective eyewear. Scooter World includes helmets and goggles or sunglasses in the cost of rental. Not to put down Newport's shuttle bus service, but a Scoot Coupe takes you places on your own schedule and makes quick work of the schlep from the waterfront to Bellevue Avenue or out to Fort Adams. The little pods will attain a top speed of 30mph. Downhill. With a tail wind.
Photos by David Lyon for the Boston Globe