Taiwan, June 7, 2006
So quick, so fun, unless its raining
Who knows what the difference between a scooter and a moped, and who cares? They are not motorcycles and not bicycles, they are that fuzzy areas in the middle and they are everywhere in Taipei. And I mean everywhere.
In every street, on most sidewalks, and close to killing you at any time, they are the most ubiquitous transportation in Taipei. While not approaching the density of bicycles in Beijing, they are none the less overwhelming.
Anything you can imagine a car used for in America is done here with a moped. Deliver newspapers, yep, carry your wife and child, check, transport large propane tanks, of course, take your dog for a ride, why not?
Not only are they ubiquitous, they are given preferential treatment often too. At stop lights, there are special moped sections ahead of the normal stop for cars that gives moped drivers, who are constantly passing between cars on their way there, a chance to speed out past cars when the light turns green.
Moped drivers are also allowed to park on sidewalks and even tree planers with impunity. There are even special moped parking sections in the areas between the curb and the sidewalk usually reserved for grass and trees.
In the morning you'll see people pass you wearing business suits, even women in skirts, and the evening rush has all manner of mopeders. Some are headed out, coat off, tie flapping in the wind. Others look more to be college students cruising for Mr. or Ms. Moped, and then there are the delivery guys bringing everything from pizza to piglets to needing customers.
All these moped drivers seem to operate in a symphony of sill and maneuverability. Zipping in and out of traffic, stopping on a dime, and accelerating past cars on green lights, they were the envy of taxi-bound stiffs like me.
Alas, I was often happy to be sequestered in a gridlocked taxi. When its raining nonstop, Typhoon Taipei style, no amount of quickness will keep you as dry as a Taipei taxi.