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Driving or Taking Your Life in Your Own Hands – Taipei, Taiwan

Driving or Taking Your Life in Your Own Hands
Taipei, Taiwan

When in Taiwan, do as the Taiwanese do, drive like maniacs or take your whole family on a scooter for a game of chicken.

Traffic during non-rush hour
Traffic during non-rush hour
In addition to the other cars, there are also people, sometimes entire families on scooters buzzing like flies around the cars and busses on the roads.

On one of the big streets next where I lived, there are 4 clearly marked lanes of traffic. In reality there are 6+ “lanes” of moving traffic cars and one “lane” of waiting to turn traffic. Sometimes this is 5 “lanes” moving and 3 “lanes” waiting. Scooters just go where ever they can fit.

There are two ways to make a left turn. If you are in the left “lane” you can wait in the intersection for a clearing in the oncoming traffic. This effectively turns the left “lane” into a non-moving waiting “lane”. If you are in the next “lane” over, that becomes the left most moving “lane” and drivers in that “lane” are then permitted to turn in to the intersection to also turn left and cut off the first and second guys in the left most, now stopped “lane”. The term “lane” is subject to driver’s discretion.

The other option is to drive in the right “lane”- or what Americans commonly know as parking spaces. This is actually a multi-use lane here in Taiwan. You can park there, or you can drive in it, or use it to turn left, whatever. If you are driving and there is a parked car in your way, you can swerve into the left lane to not hit the parked car. As long as your front bumper is ahead of the guy who you are cutting off or almost hitting, it’s all good. For turning left, from the right side of the street you can almost make a u-turn in right hand side of the intersection, and come to a stop. You will have moved your car almost 90 degrees to the direction you had been traveling, and now you can wait for the light to change and continue on your way, having turned left from the direction you came.

Scooter parking lot = Sidewalk
Scooter parking lot = Sidewalk
Does any of that make sense? No? Welcome to driving 101 in Taipei. Once out of the city it was really nice. But inside Taipei, after the most nerve-wracking 1 hour 45 minute drive; dodging scooters, busses, bikes, walkers, dogs and other cars; to get a few miles, we then had to circle and wait over an hour to park the car in the vicinity of home. NYC cab drivers are civilized in comparison.

FYI – sidewalks are also called the carpool lane if you’re at all in a hurry.

And remember:
I have a helmet, it will protect me!!!
I believe, I believe in the power of the helmet!!!
I think I’ll take my chances with the scooter!!!!!!!

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