Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Scootermania!

In Thailand, the scooter serves as a major mode of transport. This is not just for ducking to the corner store to pick up milk or wearing a leather jacket, scarf and aviators as you ride through The Valley like in Brisbane either. In Thailand, the scooter can be used for just about everything.

People rig up trailers, baskets, carriages and even entire kitchens to their scooter. The entire left lane is a constant stream of mopeds, bikes and scooters as they duck and weave around the cars. This is fantastic when you ride a bike because you virtually get a whole lane free of cars to use.

The other thing that I love about the scooters is the fact that there appears to be almost no laws governing their use!

Firstly, wearing a helmet is not required so very few people do. Generally, the only people wearing helmets are tourists on hire bikes (and you can tell them apart from the locals because they are usually wearing aviators).

There doesn't appear to be an age limit for riding a scooter. In the afternoon, it is not uncommon to see primary school kids giving their friends a lift home on a 100cc scooter.

There is no restriction on what you can carry on a scooter. If you can hold your load together, it's allowed. This seems to be so even if what you are carrying obstructs your view.

You can use a mobile phone whilst on a scooter. But you can only use your left hand.

There is no limit to the number of passengers. The record I have seen so far is 5 on a single normal scooter. Two adults and a child on the seat. A small child standing between the legs of the driver and mum holding a baby. It seems that the scooter can replace the family wagon.
There is no speed limit for scooters. One scooter will go past at 120kph whilst another trickles along at jogging pace because the rider doesn't what his cigarette to blow away.

You can park a scooter wherever you want. Although, this rule seems to apply to cars as well.
In light of the lax road rules for scooters, we thought we would take advantage. We managed to fit four grown men (if you can call a cyclist that) onto one scooter- three on the seat and one sitting backwards on the front mudguard holding on in a monkey like position.

We managed to go a couple of hundred meters like this but there were two major problems...
1. The person on the front mudguard made it difficult to steer.
2. The person on the front mudguard made it difficult to see.

So we ditched one passenger to make it three. The scooter we were on also had a fair bit of go, so we went for the three person on a scooter speed record. After three attempts, we managed to squint our way to 98kph going down a hill before we hit terminal velocity. All with no helmet, no safety gear and no aviators

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