Driving south on SE 39th, I noticed something that made my jaw drop. It wasn’t someone lighting up a crack pipe or even a hippie walking around with just pasties… it was a massive gang… of moped riders. Very few things shock, or entertain me more than understanding the concept of a moped/scooter gang.
When I first learned that there were gangs of moped riders in Portland, I refused to believe the insanity. Instantly, my imagination conjured a bunch of effeminate men circling NW 23rd on their Vespas. But my ignorance would be corrected when I was introduced to my first “moped”.
A cool moped is basically a bike turned into a motorcycle. These mopeds are equipped with pedals in order to provide the ignition spark, and then a ridiculously tiny engine automates the pedaling process. Mopeds average a road speed of 25 mph with top speeds reaching 40-60 mph (depending on how tricked out it is). Due to rising gasoline prices, they are popping up everywhere. Who could blame them, as a moped can reach up to 120 MPG.
Now try to imagine a large group of Pabst drinking, Tattoo sporting, thrift-store wearing twenty-somethings riding* around on these mopeds striking fear into the hearts of middle class families everywhere. They do all the creepy initiation things which most gangs do (more along the lines of a typical Fraternity initiation). They believe in group unity and bonding rituals. They are also territorial, but not in a serious “will shoot you” way.
Puddle Cutters is by far the most organized gang with a deep and rich website. The others include cool names such as “Twist-N-Play“, the Orphans and los gatos gordos. Ultimately, these gangs will grow as the demand for community increases on the Eastside. Gas prices tend to divide cities and increase neighborhood/community involvement. I predict that moped gangs will take over Portland… driving very slowly on your daily commute.
*Scooter Gangs are more hipster than Moped Gangs