Two-wheelers scare me. Whenever they come near my car, I slow down to give them the way. At high speeds, a nudge is enough to send the riders and bikes flying, and some falls can be fatal. I dread such a scenario. So I’m overly cautious.
I used to ride motorbikes three decades ago. But those mostly had two-stroke engines, and speeds rarely topped 80km/h. Times have changed. Powerful bikes roam the roads of India.
Times have changed in the UAE too. There are more two-wheelers on the streets. And they are not limited to bikes and motorbikes. The EV wave has revolutionised the two-wheeler scene. Now we have electric scooters, a catch-all term for all two-wheelers that run on lithium batteries.
What’s the problem with e-scooters?
The battery-powered scooters are silent. That’s a problem. You can’t hear them approaching. They are often ridden against the flow of traffic, which is a bigger problem. On ill-lit roads, it can be scary. And I have had a few scares when electric scooters whizzed into my path, the riders wearing no fluorescent vests.
Now that’s a traffic offence in the UAE. E-scooters cannot ride against the traffic flow. Why do they do it? That must be a practice passed on by the bicyclists, who contend that it allows the drivers of cars and other heavy vehicles to see them easily. What they fail to see is that it takes the drivers by surprise; they don’t expect a car or even a two-wheeler to come against the tide of traffic, especially on dual-carriage roads.
E-scooters and cyclists tend to ride on pavements but stray onto the road in places without pavements. That’s when I get more worried. Most of them wear helmets, which is mandatory. Yet riders have died, and many others have suffered severe injury. So there’s every reason why they should follow the safety guidelines.
I have nothing against e-scooters, although I’m yet to ride one. I understand why it’s popular. It’s easy to ride, needs little maintenance, and you don’t have to spend on petrol. Attractive options, really. But that doesn’t give the riders the licence to flout traffic laws and jeopardise their lives. An errant e-scooter can startle motorists, leading to a bigger crash: that’s the danger. That’s what scares me.
Motorbikes pose a different sort of danger. They are the vehicle of choice for delivery services. From food outlets to courier services, they all prefer delivery on motorbikes. It’s cheaper. Can’t blame them.
The problem arises when they race against time for deliveries. The riders weave in and out through the traffic to forge ahead. Hard shoulders don’t stop them. Every sliver of space is used to nose ahead. The danger lies in the highways when the riders rev up alongside cars. A tiny lapse in concentration and motorists may miss them on side mirrors: that’s when disaster strikes. So I get nervous when they show up in my rearview mirror, and I relax only after they have passed my car.
Does this happen to you? Or am I overly cautious? I guess a bit of caution on the road saves lives.