Guest Bloggers

Guest Bloggers | Jul 18, 2013

By Jim Hanna

I recently spent a month in Bali, where I decided to rent a motorbike. Why? Five dollars per day, gas included.

Traffic in Kuta is complete batshit, but because of the 90 percent preponderance of scooters to cars, even a flat-out jam is more like syrup, a constant ooze. Before renting the bike, I stood on the corner of a busy signal-less intersection and observed, determined to figure out the protocol. I couldn't. It seemed chaotic and stupid. The frenzied blending of helmeted heads reminded me of lottery balls being tumbled. So I joined the fray on a Honda 125 and hoped my number wouldn't come up.

Balinese scooter drivers adhere to one rule: keep it moving. (Photo by Richard Johnson)

I've ridden motorcycles for many years in several cities, and I haven't been that tentative on two wheels since the chain slipped on my Stingray. Nervousness soon gave way to acceptance if not confidence, and I realized there actually is one basic rule: KEEP IT MOVING. Not elegant, but efficient.

So I get back to Los Angeles and on Saturday, July 13 and end up parked on Interstate 5 after a tanker truck hauling 8000 gallons of gasoline (everything is a circle) took the path less traveled into a bridge abutment, turning an overpass into a hibachi. As I sat there pushing the AC button, thinking it just might work for the first time in 10 years, I surveyed the hundreds of vehicles just sitting there like drooling metal idiots and wondered what it would take for my country to become a fluid, efficient, keep-it-moving scooter nation. Punch-in-the-gut gas prices haven't done it. In Southern California we have perfect weather, yet twice a day, five days a week a huge swath of the commuting public opts for two hours of brake pedal day camp.

Bali traffic has nothing on Southern California when talking about chaotic transportation systems. (Jim Hanna)

So seriously, I really want to know, which is more chaotic and stupid?

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