I think I might have come close to death the other day.
Not mine, but rather the guy on the scooter, who I never saw.
It went something like this: I was in my car coming out of Barbecue Alley, getting ready to make a left-hand turn on to First Street on my way to the post office.
I came to a stop at the intersection of the alley and the street and looked both ways, as I always do. I saw no automobiles in either direction, so I slowly pulled out into the road.
Moments later I thought I heard some frantic, toy-like beeping, accompanied by a shouted "Hey!" I looked out my passenger-side window and there was a guy on a scooter, puttering along with me on the right-hand side of my car, an angry look on his face and a hand gesture or two adding emphasis to his bile.
I was stunned. I never saw him coming. I could have hit him. I could have killed him. And I had looked both ways. I don't use a cell phone when I drive (another topic entirely — don't get me started), so I was not distracted. I was in no particular hurry to be anywhere.
Shaken, I made it to the post office, where I sat in my car for a moment, replaying in my head what happened and why I didn't see him.
I don't know if I would have been responsible if there had been an accident, especially if there had been an injury. I don't know what the law is on that point regarding scooters. I assume it would be the same as for bicyclists.
In my memory, the driver was dressed in neutral colors, wearing, I believe, a brown jacket. That coloring tends to blend in with the surrounding brick buildings in town, not that it really matters here. I'm not sure if he had a light burning on his moped or not, but I think I would have seen a light if it was on.
To continue the story, after he passed me on the right-hand side (I waved him forward), he got in front of me and then immediately made a left-hand turn into City Hall, presumably to pay his utility bill. Or to complain about reckless drivers. I don't know.
I've still been thinking about this incident days later. Scooterists are not required to be licensed or to take a driver's exam to be on the road. The only law they are to follow, for now, is that they wear a helmet (they may be required to register and license their mopeds starting in July. Here are the only scooter "rules" I've been able to find — see here.)
The one "rule" I found interesting was the one that says "Stay out of traffic, as much as possible."
And here is an interesting story about the impending registration of mopeds.
If I drove a scooter, I think I'd take the stance that automobile drivers just can't see me. It's a good first step. I'd make it a priority (if not a law) to wear a fluorescent caution vest. I might attach an eye-catching flag or pennant to the scooter as well.
Driving a car responsibly is difficult enough. Maybe it's time for the scooterists to take some responsibility, too, especially if they insist on sharing the road with automobiles.