We have been practicing our scooter driving around the neighborhood with the ultimate goal of taking the scooter license test to make it “official”. There is no such thing as a learners permit so essentially to learn how to drive and practice, you just drive around illegally. It is strange, but the norm. Apparently, to take the test we need to drive the scooter to the motor vehicle office and no one will say anything about the fact that we do not have a scooter license to get there.
We have been practicing driving with a passenger, which is each other. During these practice sessions I came up with the idea to blog about how this is a form of marital therapy. It is mostly a joke, but somewhat serious. There is a lot of trust that you must have in the driver to not die. Riding on the back of the scooter you have no control and traffic is crazy and there have been times where I just hang on and close my eyes.
In a car, it seems so different because there are seatbelts, walls, and safety measures that you know are built-in to the vehicle. On a scooter, you are really left to the elements. In some ways I guess I was not a motorcycle fan in the US and I am somewhat surprised how much I enjoy riding the scooter, but that is when I am driving. Not that D is a bad driver, but to relinquish the control especially in Taiwan traffic, where there are rules, but you have to expect that no one will follow them, is slightly terrifying. My best comparison to riding as a passenger as we are new at scooting is that it is like what I imagine a marital therapy trust exercise to be like. Don’t worry, all safety precautions were taken in the filming of the video, and traffic was really light, so it was not a high stress situation.
Cheesy scooter riding analogy aside, once you embrace the chaos you understand why there are 15 million registered scooters in Taiwan. It is convenient. There are in some places designated scooter only lanes, painted boxes at the front of intersections for only scooters, freedom to drive in the shoulders around the stopped car traffic, and most importantly the ease of parking almost everywhere. In the video, you can see the way all the scooters bunch together and even the painted scooter box on the road. Also keep in mind that this is very light traffic. Imagine scooters tightly packed in the box and between all the cars that are behind you… that is typical traffic and rush hour is what seems like hundreds of scooters weaving around the cars.
A few of the rules of the road are different from the US, which are good to know, so you don’t die. First, there are no free right turns here, even if no one is coming you are supposed to wait for a green light. Second, to turn left at many intersections there is a scooter turn box meaning you turn right to go straight. We were told to look for these because they make taking a left on a scooter, much safer, well non-existent really. Lastly and most importantly you need to know that all driving rules will be ignored and you just need to expect that everyone driving will do something stupid. I know, this last one seems counterintuitive, but really once you except that all laws will be broken you really are more vigilant in paying attention.
While all of that may seem frightening I have never had so much fun. One of our friends suggested that maybe I was cutout for the “motorcycle life” all along, but it took Taiwan to make me realize it. I am studying for the written test, which apparently with the poorly translated questions in English can be quite tricky. In the next couple of weeks I hope to be a bona-fide licensed scooter driver. My question for you is, will you trust me to take you for a ride? 😁🛵😁 You may need therapy!