The upside to $4 gasoline: Bike and Vespa sales soaring

This morning after I dropped my kids off at their respective camps, I counted no less than five Vespas on the road. Maybe that doesn't sound like a remarkable number to you, but this is Los Angeles, not Italy. Vespas were always considered a quaint novelty.

Now, however, as gas hovers at around $4.60 a gallon for regular, anecdotal evidence seems to suggest the gas-sipping scooter is on its way toward becoming a mainstream transportation option.

It's not just my random observations either, apparently. According to industry sources, scooter sales have risen 24% in the first quarter of 2008 compared to the same quarter last years.