Riding to death in Bali

I saw an interesting statistic which showed that about 100 motor cyclists die each month on the roads in Bali.

Bali is a fantastic place, a tropical island with great weather, good beaches, fantastic culture and truly wonderful, welcoming people, which richly deserves the title `Island of the Gods’.
This Indonesian island has certainly overcome the tragedy of two major terrorist attacks over the past decade; and now tourists are flocking back to this magical isle to once again the pleasure of simply being in a place which seems to have indeed been blessed by the gods.

Blessed in many ways, that is, except for its traffic.

Traffic is chaotic anywhere around Bali’s main city of Denpasar, which encompasses the main tourist areas of Kuta, Tuban, Legian, Seminyak, Nusa Dua and Sanur. The four wheeled vehicles are bad enough but, as in much of Asia, it is the pesky motorcyclists who really make life difficult for pedestrians.

As far as motorcyclists are concerned, there are no road rules. It’s not unusual to see whole families, sometimes up to five people, tearing along the streets on the one bike. Others are used to transport all sorts of goods, and they get loaded up with impossibly high and wide loads as they negotiate Bali’s many narrow streets.

That’s all well and good if the motorcyclists are actually driving along the roads in the right direction, but you are just as likely to see motorbikes being ridden the wrong way down streets, or quickly down very narrow pedestrian areas. Not only that, but the bike riders assume that because they are on a powered machine they have right of way. Ergo, if you are a pedestrian and you see a motorbike coming up a pathway at speed towards you, get out of the way, because they won’t.

So, it is no wonder that there are about one hundred motorcycle deaths per month in Bali; the riders simply have no respect for road rules or other road users.
The best that can be said for these bike riders is that at least they are locals. An already bad situation is magnified many times over when stupid westerners take to the roads on bikes, trying to ape the kamikaze-like riding styles of the locals.

The locals at least seem to wear helmets, but you get the idiotic westerners who like to think that they are indestructible and go riding around barefooted and bareheaded. They seem to get it into their tiny brains that they are invincible.

Just because you are in paradise doesn’t mean that you should want kill yourself and remain in paradise for eternity.
I guess, though, that at least they are exercising their freedom of choice in risking their lives. What I find very hard to understand is why you would risk a loved one’s life so that you can have a dangerous taste of freedom.

I’ll never forget the last time I was in Bali and say a western family, twenty-something male and female, tearing around Legian on a bike, whilst holding an infant. No helmets, no shores, no protection whatsoever for the poor child. It was one of the most selfish, stupidest things that I have ever witnessed. If the child’s parents didn’t mind becoming Bali crash statistics the good on them, but I was at a loss to understand how any responsible parent could knowingly put their child in so much danger.

Then again, many westerners who go to Bali think that because rules are quite lax there all common sense should go out the window. The hospitals and morgue in Bali are testament to the fact a modicum of common sense is the one thing you should pack when you go away.

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