Since I have already dished about driving in the United Kingdom (http://reneespassport.blogspot.com/2009/02/to-drive-or-not-to-drive.html) so I won't repeat myself...okay, I will try not to repeat myself. But now that I am a real driver (yes, I am. True story.) I have a few more observations to make about the whole scene.
Did you know that in the UK it is perfectly acceptable to pass on the right? It sounds harmless when I say it, but imagine sitting on the right side of the car, driving on the left side of the road. In your mirror you see a car coming up alongside you, usually much faster, and it kind of throws you for a second. It was a bit scary the first time it happened. That isn't the thing about motorcycles, though. The thing about scooters and motorcycles is that they can pass in between lanes of traffic that are otherwise stopped in traffic. So imagine sitting in a traffic jam and suddenly a motorcycle comes along, weaving its way alongside the stopped cars, carefully avoiding everyone's mirrors and (for all intents and purposes) cutting in line - because that is essentially what they are doing. Like the person who drives up the shoulder in a traffic jam, the motorcycles and scooters are getting out of having to wait like the rest of us.
The first time I saw this happen, I said to John in my high-pitched, 'no way' voice, "Did they just - did I just see that motorcycle do that??" He answered, without even looking at me, "Yep. It is legal here. They don't need to be in a lane. I asked someone about it myself." To which I replied, "That is SO not fair."
It then occurred to me that I would never see that happen in America...the "cutting" being allowed for some people and not others. The first reason is because things, whether good or bad, are generally kept pretty fair in the US. I mean this in a very broad and general way. Second, I imagine that anyone ballsy enough to try to cut in line could be subject to someone's door "accidentally" opening as they approached with little or no time to stop, colliding with the open door and therefore possibly resulting in an injury to the motorcyclist, and certain damage to the car door...which would then be a lawsuit for one or both parties. The United States is pretty adept at averting situations that could result in a lawsuit of some sort. I never realized how true that is until we moved to the UK...but that's another post for another time.
By the way, while I have your attention, I would like to say that I really, really, really HATE HATE HATE scooters. They are HORRIBLY whiny and loud. Yes, they are better for the environment than a car...but what about my ears??? We live near a university campus, so I think I hear a disproportionate number of them on a daily basis. And since it is probably mostly university students, I hear these buzzing monstrosities at all hours of the day - and night.
At first I was able to laugh it off, thinking about Eddie Izzard doing his imitation of the Italians on scooters, saying "ciao!" But now the weather is wonderful for having the windows open and so I REALLY hear them. (I've said it before and I'll say it again...if you haven't seen Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill, you are REALLY missing out. So go rent it. Buy it. Just make sure you see it. Or try try this link...the stand-up part of it begins about four minutes in. It will be the best hour and fifty minutes you have spent in a long time. I promise. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2628774106022441566 ) If you insist on only watching the scooter part (which would be a shame) it is at about the 26 minute mark. But you'll be missing some seriously SMART and funny stuff by only watching that part.
Okay, I KNOW I am being a crazy old lady in getting all agitated and annoyed by something as minor as scooters whizzing by my house every day at all hours. I accept that about myself and love it anyway. So there.
Now go watch Eddie Izzard. It gets funnier and funnier as it goes along. You'll thank me. And, if you go to the UK and you are stuck in a traffic jam, do not open your car door. You can't say you weren't warned.