Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Friday, 25 January 2008
Saturday, 26 January 2008 02:04

Scooter or no scooter ?

I have been living in Taiwan for two years and a half and I am a pitiful pedestrian. As a matter of fact, in Taipei, the pedestrian is not at all the ruler of the street. The true king of the streets (and the sidewalks) in Taipei is the scooter.

At first it could look practical to move about the city on two motorized wheels as a real urbanite! Scooters are fast, not that expensive in Taiwan and easy to park… Easy to park? Really? There are more or less one million scooters in Taipei for its more than 2,600,000 population which means that there is almost one scooter for every three persons in the city! I could verify this number on a smaller scale citing my Taiwanese relatives: my family of four members living in Taipei owns a total of three scooters and two cars!

Moreover, scooters in Taipei are also a notorious danger for pedestrians, bicycles and for themselves! At least half of the people I know have had an accident involving a scooter and it’s astonishing to see how much the radiography rooms are crowded in the hospitals. A friend of mine, a hard-practicing-scooterer, once told me that she has to frequently bypass the security driving rules because of other scooters! For example, Taipei streets have on the largest streets a special place designated on the ground where scooters can wait for the light to become green; according to my friend, there is always one scooter starting to cross while the light is still red, then all the other scooters have also to cross at once so half of the herd is already in the middle of the street and the other half is urging poor you in the middle to do the same… I can still point out that, although everyone shares the same instinct of survival, the herds’ ways of acting are perhaps not the best ones to preserve one’s life and, in this case, they especially do discourage any courtesy between the street users.

Also, in the motorized jungle of the city, the scooters and motorcycles have their own predators: cars, taxis, trucks and buses. A new trend of smoking completely the windshield of four-wheel drives so that the driver cannot be seen from outside just worsens the discrepancy between the hard world of the street person and the safe cocoon of the big car. Apart from the fact that the people outside have no idea if the driver has spotted them or not, it also appears to be a lousy way to drive and to interact with others. If “I” feel good, I do not need to worry about others’ feelings even less about their safety.

For your information: production and sales of cars doubled in 2007 on the Chinese market which is the second biggest in the world after the US.

(Photo: R. Berman)

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