25 June 2016

Riding Your Scooter in Bali Safely

Riding a Scooter in Bali is a great way to get around. You can zip through the traffic and you never have any troubles finding a place to park. However, there are many risks and rules to consider before you decide whether to hop on a scooter. Here are some tips:

#1 Make Sure Your Insurance Covers You! If you get on a scooter in Bali without a license, you will immediately void your insurance. You will need to check with your insurance provider to see if they will cover you on an international driving license on a 125cc scooter (all scooters in Bali have 125cc) without a motorbike license at home. Most do not!

#2 Don’t Get on the Road Until You Have Plenty of Practice! The roads in Bali are crazy and there is not a lot of sympathy for shaky new riders. You need to be confident and make quick decisions riding in Bali, so practicing on small roads or on an open parking lot or field is a good idea. Whatever you do, don’t get on the bypass until you’ve had a lot of time on smaller roads.

#3 Wear a Helmet!!!! You wouldn’t have thought this needs an explanation, but everyday in Bali thousands of people ride around without protecting their heads. It’s your head people!! Your brain is in there…I think.

#4 Wear a Shirt. Apart from getting ridiculously sunburnt, driving shirtless is practically asking for a full body gravel rash if you happen to get in an accident. Even wearing a t-shirt could save you a few layers of skin.

#5 Carry Your International or Local License with You. There are police everywhere these days and with new laws about ticketing you can’t be sure to get out of official fines as easily as before. They can (and will) take your bike depending on the mood of the day. Having your license and registration makes a police stop a non-issue. Your license from home won’t cut it.

#6 Remember People are Going to Pass on the Left and Right. It’s not something you would think about at home, but bikes and even cars will pass you on the left and the right. It’s easy to forget and also to get angry about, but it’s just the way they roll in Bali so remember to check over your right and left shoulders before making a move.

#7 If in Doubt Get a Driver. There are plenty of other options for getting around in Bali, so if in doubt, don’t get on that scooter! You can get a taxi, a private driver or Uber, and if you want to hop on the back of a bike with an experienced driver, get the GoJek app for a simple way to order a ride. It’s really cheap too.

#8 Don’t Drink and Ride. Many people seem to think that the drink driving rules they abide by at home don’t apply in Bali. You might not get stopped and breathalized, but drinking and riding is dangerous for you and others on the road. Know when you’ve had too much to drink and get someone else to take you home. You can always pick your bike up in the morning.

#9 Put Your Bags in the Seat. Not to scare you, but there have been some awful incidents of bag snatching on the roads in tourist heavy areas. If your bag is in your seat, thieves have nothing to grab, so are much less likely to target you. This is especially something to take note of if you’re riding at night.

#10 Beeping is Good! Horns in Bali on both cars and bikes are used more as a warning that someone is there, than comment on something you’re doing wrong. So, if you are getting beeped at it’s most likely someone saying they are going to overtake. You can beep to, to let people know you’re coming around a tight corner, you’re passing behind as they are reversing or are getting close to overtake (on the left or right). 

Think Hard Before Riding a Scooter in Bali. There are some real pluses to riding a scooter in Bali and many thousands of locals, tourists and expats ride responsibly every day. However, if you have any doubts about it, just don’t. There are plenty of other options for getting around.

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