Scooter life in Taiwan.
by Phil Martin
I just read over 70% of registered vehicles in Taiwan are scooters or motorcycles. It is really hard to explain what it is like through a list of pros and cons.
+Space Efficient. In America, most cars have 1 rider and take up the same space as 5-8 scooters which are each carrying 2+ people. Simply put, you can fit many more people on the road.
+Fuel Efficient: Cars use a gallon of gas for every 20-30 miles. Here, most scooters require less than a gallon for a full tank which will carry you 60-80 miles depending on the scooter!
+Money Efficient: A brand new fancy scooter could be $3500. An average new one is $2000, and a second hand one like mine can be as cheap as $300. I don’t need to tell you how that compares to a car. Maintenance is equally affordable.
+Easy Parking: You can fit a surprisingly high number of scooters in a small space, and you rarely pay for it.
+Quick Travel: Since scooters have their own lane, you can scoot past traffic jams in a hurry. I find that scooters are usually 20-30% faster than driving.
+Feels Like A Biker Gang Every Day: Riding with your friends is a blast. Pulling up to a red light and having a conversation makes a long trip much more enjoyable.
-Incredibly Dangerous: Most traffic deaths in Taiwan are from scooters. In Japan there are 3.5 traffic deaths per 100,000 people, 12.5 for the U.S. and 17.5 for Taiwan. For a developed country, it is very dangerous.
-Terrifying: It is worth stating twice. Scooters are dangerous. Driving here often feels like being in a herd of angry buffalo that are charging down main street. With protection being limited to a helmet, traveling at 50 mph is truly terrifying. Often I see families driving with two kids including infants. I am even more terrified when I see them.
-No Storage Space: Going to Costco in a scooter is a challenge. Not much that you can buy at Costco that can be transported either in a backpack or between your feet.
-Uncomfortable: No road trips on scooters. I have a limit of about 20 minutes before I am ready to take a break.
-Exposed to the Elements: Wind, rain, cold, and fumes are all big downsides to driving a scooter. Many people buy big raincoats to avoid the rain and a mask to cut down on the dirt and smog that is inhaled while driving.
Overall I love scooters, but I wish Taiwan did a few things to make them safer. I will definitely miss my scooter when I get home.