Sunday, July 23, 2006

Born to be Wild ... or Not

I'm sure you're wondering what these are. Well this is what's left after you burn all the plastic parts off a scooter. These ones were probably caught in a fire that spread to the densely parked scooters near the fire. It's amazing how little of substance there is on these things.

Just thought I'd weigh in on the ride or don't ride debate that seems to come up quite often in foreign circles.

First, I need to say, I am a scooter driver. Second, I spoke about the evils and dangers of scooters before getting one myself.

After almost 6 years, I still haven't had an accident. What do I attribute this to? Personality. Keeping a cool head is the key to success with scooters. There are other related things though. Don't be the first one through an intersection. Be aware of your periphery. Study the behavior of taxis and buses. Keep your scooter in good shape. Use your mirrors and not shoulder checking. Watch those slippery surface road lines and sewer lids in rainy weather.

Driving a scooter is, at its best, a true pleasure. Feeling the wind cooling you off on a hot summer day. Freedom comes to mind. It allows you to explore the city in a way that you can't on foot. You can certainly get a lot more done in a short time, traveling from place to place is a breeze. At it's worst, it's a cold, wet or bone-chilling ride in the winter.

Which brings me to my point. Basically there are two types of personalities: scooter or non-scooter. People who drive scooters are not likely to ever go back to public transportation. Believe me, even cars are not a pleasure in Taipei with all the traffic. Scooters can squeeze through the cracks of the traffic easily. Nor are parking spaces for cars easy to find. Scooters are much more practical for this too.

People who fall in the non-scooter driver category have many reasons: the fear of the unknown, danger, accident, injury and death, the distaste of a little dirt in the face and maybe even a little snobbery thinking that driving a scooter is for the low-class.

To me, they are living the lie that lots of non-scooter drivers always seem to chime along together, "Oh driving a scooter? That's crazy! Too dangerous!" (I know people say this because this is what I said before too!) Well choose what you want to believe folks. Experience is everything, speculation is just a guess in the end. To the doubters, I say, "Don't knock it until you try it..."

While we're on the topic, you might be aware of the strange scooter names here in Taiwan. The models truly have strange names. Perhaps the 'king' of them all is the Grand Dink, a large Kymco model that looks like a boat. Can you image a guy saying, "Hey babe! Would you like a ride on my Grand Dink?"

Finally for all you riders! Don't get caught in the no riding zones, especially on ChengDe Road. I've been photographed by police on the skywalks on that very road several times. Fines are hefty so beware!Posted by Picasa
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