I’m Bigger Than You
Quickly, and through the help of one of the NSTs at my branch, I have learned the unspoken rule of driving in Taiwan: The biggest vehicle owns the road. There is no right-of-way here like there is in the United States. Instead there is more of a totem pole, or hierarchy of vehicles. You have your buses, trucks, vans, cars, scooters, and then the bicycles. Currently, without a scooter, I am on the bottom of the totem pole. What this means is that if I am driving along safely on my bike, and a car decides to pull out into the road I better watch out because that car is not stopping for me. The main reason for all these bigger vehicles pulling out whenever is because no one gets out of the way of a bus, so the bus makes them get out of the way by pulling into the lane they need to be in. I think I have gotten a hang of how the driving works here. Let’s see if I will be able to say that after I buy a scooter in a couple weeks.
I really am trying my best to adjust to Taiwanese culture, but old habits die-hard. Really hard.
Old habit #1: Road Rage
In the United States if a car cut me off I would honk at them, probably flip them off, and a delicate swear word would escape my mouth. I have not done any of this yet. Partly because my bike does not have a bell (which I am very sad about). Also, I don’t want to swerve into another car while I am trying to flip off the other car. Lastly, traffic is so loud that if I did swear no one would hear me and hopefully would not understand me anyways.
Old habit #2: Stubbornness
This habit really hasn’t broken much at all. You know how I said the biggest vehicle controls the road? Well I have been braking and watching for buses, but I still can’t get over the fact that I have to stop for cars. I feel like it should be much easier for a car to see me. Especially if they are pulling out of a parked position! So I still don’t completely stop for cars and I make them wait for me. This is probably going to change once I get a scooter, but like I said, old habits die-hard. I think no matter what I will still hate cars with a passion here.
Old habit #3: Honking
In the States honking is used in more aggressive situations, such as, if someone cuts you off, someone almost sideswipes you, etc. Well in Taiwan honking is used more to make someone aware that you are there. So lets say a car wants to pull out and I am going to drive past them I would honk my little scooter horn to let them know that I am driving past. It really scared me when I first started riding my bicycle because I kept thinking that people were mad at me or they thought I was in their way. When in fact this whole time they were just letting me know that they were there and that I should watch my left side for them. This is a very courteous gesture, but something I will have to get used to. I still feel like people are mad every time they honk their horn. I repeat again, old habits die hard.
The parking here is a whole other issue! Pictures of parking and Fengyuan streets to come.