In Taiwan Basic Physics Does Not Apply – Taipei, Taiwan

In Taiwan, Basic Physics Does Not Apply
Taipei, Taiwan

Basic Physics:

A body in motion will stay in motion unless acted up by an equal or greater force in the opposite direction. At which point the body will reverse direction or come to a complete stop.

There are appoximately 6 million people in the Taipei metro area. The average family size is 4, each family owns on average 2 scooters, and 1 car. That’s about 3 million scooters and 1.5 million cars in an area the size of the Seattle metro area (not the east side). Also add in the bus and subway system to move all these people. That’s a lot of traffic all the time!

Scooter riders, wearing a helmet and cloth face mask, in Taiwan seem to be exempt from this basic law of momentum. Apparently the mass availability of helmets has invalidated various laws of physics as they apply to the human body while on a scooter. There is a belief, the wearing of a helmet will enable any and all scooter riders to defelect any object in the path of or coming towards them; whether that object be pedestrian, scooter, car, or bus.

Especially buses; it seems that bus and car deflection is the most heavily used of all the beliefs. The Western ideology that a body composed of 85% water will come to a stop (usually along the side or across the front of) when acted upon by the force of a much larger steel body does not work here if the riders have helmets on. It is valid, however, if the rider is not wearing a helmet.

This is not as you many think, a belief held only by young males. This ideology streches across genders, generations, and ethinicity.

In Taiwan, drivers drive on the right side of the road, same as the USA. Buses stop at busstops by pulling up to the right side of the street. As with most areas, there is no parking in the front area of a bus stop where the bus will be stopping to take on passengers. In Taiwan, the sidewalk directly past the bus stop sign is scooter parking, just leaving enough room for one lane of pedestrian traffic.

Last night while riding with my cousin, I came as close as I want to get to having my own bus billboard. My cousin, male, college graduate, early 20′s, was driving; directly in front of us (by 5 inches) was a elderly, grandmotherly woman. We are behind/next to (I could touch it) a double section bus. Grandma speeds up to pass a bus on the RIGHT side. My cousin decides, he too must get in front of the bus before it pulls into the upcoming stop just across the intersection. Grandma makes it past the bus, we only made it because he gunned the engine to speed us by. I hear and feel the tires scrape curb!

A corellary of this belief is that if the space between two moving objects in front of you is 1 foot or less than the width of the vehicle you are in/on, you can still make it through.

In Taiwan, there are no driving rules, it’s all about how fast you can get to the finish.

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