Hold on

Hold on

Hold on

Becky Husky

When it comes to two-wheeled modes of transportation, my experience is limited to bicycles. Or at least it was until I came to Taiwan.

Here, the scooters rival the cars for road space. I didn’t think so many scooters could fit on so small an island. But, they do. It’s the common transportation for most everyone, and they’re used quite creatively. I’ve seen people transport floor lamps, small trees, pizza boxes and bushels of corn. I’ve even seen locals walk their dogs while driving a scooter.

Of course I’ve seen scooters in America – especially now that high gas prices make them more efficient. But, I had never ridden one until my boyfriend, Jake, and I were loaned one by a Taiwanese friend. We now drive our scooter everywhere, just like the locals.

Well, Jake drives. I hold on.

Traffic here is not like that in America. There are traffic lights and lanes, which is the extent of any similarity. In America, drivers get ticketed for any number of offenses. But there seems to be just one rule for driving in Taiwan traffic, which my friend Jennifer stated a few weeks ago.

“Just be careful,” she said. “Don’t get into a wreck and you’ll be just fine.”

Her advice seems to be accurate. I’ve seen vehicles run red lights, pull U-turns and drive on the wrong side of the road – right in front of a cop. As long as you don’t hit anything, no one seems to care.

It’s a mistake to drive with an American mindset here. You’ve got to be flexible and aware, or else it’s impossible to cope when five scooters, two bicycles and a garbage truck pull out in front of you. When walking, you’ve got to be especially alert. Just the other day I met an American who had been hit on two separate occasions, once by a van.

But, though the traffic looks chaotic from an outside perspective, there’s a relaxed sort of rhythm to it all. People know what they’re doing and easily compensate for all the randomness. Unlike in America, there is no angry honking or startled swerving. In fact, I’ve seen only one wreck since my arrival.

I plan on mastering the art of scooter driving during my stay. For now, I practice on back roads far from any sort of traffic. Maybe I’ll even get my own scooter when I return to America. Maybe.