as one poster recently pointed out, renting scooters in bermuda tends to be a hot topic which many people, experienced, relatively experienced and inexperienced, weigh in on. i rode motorbikes for many years, it was a rite of passage in my younger years, i started when i was about 8 years old and rode up into my early 30s. why did i stop? not because i had several accidents. despite my love of high speed (i used to be THAT hooligan who overtook everyone all the time) i was only involved in two accidents in my entire time on two wheeled vehicles, both low speed. one was at a roundabout that had a thin sheen of oil on it and the second was again on a roundabout where i was cut off by a hit and run driver. everyone who rides long enough in bermuda will have an accident, that's just a fact. if they haven't had one yet and they keep riding, they will.
but what about visitors? after all, that's who this is all about. the obvious is that the vast majority of you guys will go out on your scooter and come back perfectly fine but there's no way to tell WHO will get in an accident. it goes without saying that those of us who are skilled and confident will do better than those of us who aren't but what about getting taken out by someone who isn't skilled? have a look at this video. notice the person (a tourist) in front has a functioning brake light, uses his hand to signal a turn, isn't wobbly, generally looks like he's competent at this. notice when the person recording reaches for his brakes, not until it's far too late. good rider taken out by bad rider. how much control over that situation does the skilled rider have? how could he have avoided that?
to further this point, here's a current (as i am writing this) situation.
one poster recently said "people are giving Twizzies far too much credit for being safe. There is nothing there to protect you in a crash" and "I reject the idea that the Twizzies are that much safer. If you're in a collision with a car or bus, you'll find out real quick how little protection a Twizzy offers." no one is making any claims about crash safety ratings of a twizy vs a scooter! the reason twizys are safer is they have the inherent stability of four wheels coupled with familiar controls. lots of scooter accidents occur for the following reasons
-user does not know how to lean the cycle into the corner to negotiate a bend in the road, causing them to enter the opposite lane where they can crash into oncoming traffic. the danger of this situation is magnified if on a sharp, blind corner.
-user is not familiar with a twist throttle. when they hit the gas, the bike lurches forward, the rider's weight shifts backwards, usually applying more throttle whilst tightening their grip on the handlebars. this quite often leads to the cyclist shooting out into traffic. many of us locals have seen this many times.
both of these are all but eliminated when the user has stability and familiar controls and that's what makes a twizy safer than a scooter, it isn't about being able to survive the crash but rather not getting into a crash in the first place.
one comparison was made between tourists dying while swimming or snorkelling vs scooter crashes. not that it's a valid comparison, but the vast majority of water deaths in bermuda are heart attacks and therefore not a water-safety issue so until heart attacks are shown to be the reason why most tourist get into scooter accidents, you might be safer in the water than on a scooter. the same poster also said about injuries and deaths on our roads "injuries and deaths have been pretty much ALL local residents" well this makes sense given that we drive many, many times more miles than visitors do. quite simply put, we ride bikes a lot more miles than you guys, so our exposure is a lot higher.
i stopped by the scooter rental in dockyard this morning and asked the manager how many of their scooters come back damaged, he said 4-5 PER DAY with one major incident per week and this is from ONE shop on the island. you can expect other shops renting a similar volume of scooters to have similar results. you won't find any of this in the newspaper unless the victim is admitted to the acute care wing or the intensive care unit at the hospital. the overwhelming majority of tourist road accidents don't require medical attention at the hospital and therefore go unreported. i was at ice queen in paget last week where i met a young couple coming out of the pharmacy with a bag of first-aid things and they proceeded to clean each other up. one can only guess how many times things similar to this happens in one day.
the reason why i advise against renting a scooter is simply because no one can tell who will be in an accident. as evidenced here, even skilled, experienced riders can and will on occasion be taken out by an inattentive or reckless fellow road users. i don't recall any injuries recently for bus passengers, people getting hit by a bus, yes, but no injuries reported for people riding the bus. same for taxis while the ferries have reported a small handful of minor injuries in the past 10 years. for those who will go ahead and rent, here's my advice.
practice letting the throttle go! while parked in a safe area with the engine OFF, practice twisting the throttle then releasing your grip so the throttle snaps shut then re-assume your grip. do this for a while and hopefully you'll know to do this if you find yourself in an out-of-control situation. this one move can make the difference in you regaing control before disaster or crashing. yes, brakes are very important but in some situations, the engine can overcome the brakes and you'll still be moving along toward danger! practice this move every chance you get. you can see an example of the brakes-and-throttle crash in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywznuVRHoFY
divide your lane into quarters and try to stay in the quarter second from the left. this will give overtakers more room and will also give you space between yourself and someone "nosing" their vehicle out on a driveway or side road.
don't overly concern yourself with what's going on behind you! i see it all to often a tourist suddenly has traffic behind him and he then starts staring into his mirrors trying to figure out what's going on behind him, causing him to wobble either into the opposing lane or the hedge or wall or telephone pole on his left. i've even seen people trying to adjust their mirrors in this same situation! if someone is too close for comfort, simply slow down and pull over and let them pass. there isn't anything you can do by searching your mirrors that couldn't be better accomplished by simply getting out of the way.
every time it rains in the summer, it's guaranteed that there will be a scooter accident so do your best to wait until the roads aren't soaked and even after that ride slowly.
i hope this helps and please be careful!