Monday, August 1, 2011

Cycle Culture

The instructions to my 2009 red Yamaha scooter documents each nut and bolt to my machine.  Literally.  The owner's manual details how to take off the side panels for a peek at the engine, outlines the air induction system, and catalogs where to get spare parts and new varnish for body touch-ups.  The maintenance schedule gives me the knowledge to offer informed guidance to my mechanics on what needs to be done at each mileage check-up.  But where are the rules about cultural cycle norms?

Beyond legalities, there are unspoken cultural nuances to scooter driving in Atlanta.  One of my favorites is the motorcycle wave.  It's akin to a secret handshake of an underground fraternity.  A quick dropped arm at a downward sloping 45 degree angle before returning to the safety of the handlebar grip.  This wave is a call to solidarity among scooter riders.  When I drive around town and pass another scooter driver we will use the wave as a friendly hello or simple recognition for the choice to be on two wheels.  Motorcyclists sometimes wave.  Their choice to wave, perhaps, depends on pride.  I find some motorcyclists to regard a scooter the way a child on a two-wheel bicycle would pitifully watch a toddler on a tricycle.  I let them silently guff.  They can't ride their machines in stiletto heels.

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