Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Scooters on the B.I.

How many scooters are there?

Take the biggest number you know. Double it, then add three, and cube the result. There's more than that.

It's interesting, because over the last few days I've been estimating a rough distribution of powered two-wheeled things and I would say that less than one or two percent are motorcycles (defined as having a manual clutch versus just a throttle).

Of the motorcycles, less than one in five is over 250cc; a grand total of three (that's three bikes) have been over 750cc—two Harleys and one Oilhead. Ironically, the oilhead was in traffic next to us last night while we were cabbing to dinner; it was identical to the one I mentioned earlier when we were in Lion City. And in that context, a GS Adventure with hardcases and all the farkles looks positively brobdingnagian; a whale among minnows.

Scooters filter to the head of the line at traffic lights, and when the light changes they are unleashed in a snarling, screaming pack of two-stroke rage. They are binary, apparently having just two settings: idle and full throttle. They come in every possible permutation of hardware, rider, pillion and cargo, and a typical pack will comprise two dozen scooters.

There are repair shops, really just the size of a one-car garage, shoehorned into the streetscape every few blocks.

The sidewalks are lined curbside from one end of the block to the other with scooters, and sidewalks serve as an overflow lane when convenient.

The rules of the road are more generally seen as gentle suggestions, not so much hard-and-fast things. Hell, the rules of physics don't even seem to be applied that stringently.

I consider myself to be a pretty hardcore rider, and I'm comfortable in urban traffic; I thrive in that environment. But standing amidst the hustle and bustle, the noise and the fumes, the scooters careening every which way (and that's just on the sidewalk) I can sum up my feelings this way:

This homeboy ain't never gonna ever ride on the B.I. ever never no way.

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