I have seen cyclists (you know the type, wearing spandex and a bright colored jersey, riding at least a $2000 bike) easily take off from a red light faster than cars. Yes, they soon get passed, but they do get off the line quick. Plus, they are allowed to ride to the far right, and in a bike lane if there is one. Scooters cannot do this. And while very people could ride a bicycle 40 mph for any length, they don't need to. A scooter must occupy a traffic lane (in my state) and the Honda Met was so slow off the line you were in serious danger of being run over from behind when the light turned green. It's hard to blame someone in a car for not knowing just how slow these things accelerate. They are used to motorcycles zipping away from them when the light changes, and very few people in cars know the difference between a sportbike and a 50cc scooter. I finally rigged my turn signals to function as 4 way flashers, and kept them on at all speeds below 30 mph. That did get the attention of some car drivers. But then many of them would pass inches away and lay on the horn as soon as they got the chance. I actually had my left mirror hit a couple of times. Speed limits in my area are 45 mph, and most everyone does 55, only exception being school zones. Trying to ride a scooter with a top speed of 40 mph in 55 mph traffic is suicide, especially if it takes 1/4 mile to reach 40 mph. I have no problem keeping up with traffic on my Vino and Zuma 125 scooters, as they top out at about 55, and accelerate a LOT faster than a 50cc.
I can see maybe getting away with a 50cc scooter in a small town, but I live in a large city, with a lot of traffic, and everybody is in a hurry. A 50cc scooter just doesn't cut it.
However, out on rural roads, where the speed limit is 65, they are very safe, because you are allowed to ride on the shoulder outside the city limits.You are no longer blocking traffic, they just go around you. People ride bicycles all over my state, and as long as you stay out of big cities, a 50cc scooter is just as safe on these roads. Like I said, I put 10,000 miles on a Met, at WOT on 65 mph roads. Never had a single incident where I felt threatened. Traffic could pass you several feet away. I still kept my 4 way flashers on, and even thought about having an orange slow moving vehicle triangle sewn onto the back of a jacket. Tractors and other farm machinery also uses these roads, with flashing yellow lights and orange triangles. They also stay as far to the right as possible, and even pull off the road and wait if several vehicles get lined up behind them.
2002 Vulcan 750, 2001 XT225
2008 Vino 125, 2009 Genuine Stella
2012 Zuma 125, 1980 Puch Newport moped