So…the traffic here in Taipei. Where do I even begin? First off, let me just say that I most certainly would not want to operate a motorized vehicle here. Well at least not one that I don’t want damaged beyond repair.
The first time I was here in Taiwan, several years ago, I hadn’t yet learned to drive. So, whenever I got into a cab, I would just get out my iPod and fall asleep for the whole ride. Now that I’m older, I’m more aware of the cab driver’s actions. I gotta say I’m both impressed and horrified with the cab drivers here; horrified by the number of crashes we narrowly avoid and impressed by how well the cab drivers take it.
When driving a car in the city of Taipei, you have to weave your way through trucks, scooters, alleys, pedestrians, and other cars. I believe when you’re first learning to drive in the US, the instructor usually tells you to leave at least 2 car lengths in front of you, just in case something happens and you need to brake. If you followed that rule here in Taipei, you would never get anywhere, as the 2 or more car lengths you leave in front of you would immediately be filled with 2 or more cars, along with a couple of scooters.
Oh ya, the scooters…
Since there is so little space for driving, parking, and owning a car in general, scooters are a popular alternative here in Taiwan. In fact, there are usually many more scooters crowding the streets than cars. Scooters take up a lot less space, so not only do they require much less space to store, but when you come up to a red light when you’re driving one, you can weave in between all the bigger, less maneuverable cars to the front of the pack.
Here is a video of a typical Taipei street intersection at around rush hour. I didn’t record this video myself, but it’s a pretty accurate depiction of Taiwanese traffic around these parts. Notice how the mob of scooters pass by first, as they have all made their way to the front while the light was still red.