Motorcycles, Scooters, and Surviving with Them in Oaxaca

articles Living, Working, Retiring

Alvin Starkman

A Voice from Oaxaca

The third week of May, 2008, Hertz in Oaxaca changed its downtown location from a side street to the main drag, the pedestrian walkway known as Alcalá about a block and a half up from the zócalo. The new digs are larger and storefront. However, in one of the windows four or five 125 cc scooters are parked for rent, at the very reasonable price of 250 pesos per day. The Hertz management are good people whom I’ve known for years.

However, travelers and should take extra precautions if contemplating renting a scooter.

The temptation is now right in front of you. Bombing around downtown Oaxaca or on the nearby highways is very different from renting a motorbike in Cancun, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Escondido and other beach resorts. It’s much more dangerous in my opinion. So be forewarned and make sure you exercise added caution if you’re a novice or lack a lot of experience, yet still insist on renting.

In the space of one year, in motorcycle accidents, one acquaintance has been killed, and another ended up confined permanently to a wheelchair and these were experienced, Oaxacan cyclists.

  • In Oaxaca, rules of the road are different, and in any event are not enforced very often.
  • At many intersections, there are no traffic lights or stop or yield signs, so you just have to know.
  • Frequently, traffic lights don’t work (especially during rainy season).
  • It appears to me that most motorists are uninsured (insurance is optional in the state).
  • Impaired driving is a much greater problem here than in the U.S. or Canada.

While penal reform now exists in Oaxaca, its implementation is proceeding very slowly, and here in the city we are still subject to a Napoleonic/inquisitorial regime. This means that if you get in an accident and someone is injured, even if you believe it’s not your fault, you could end up behind bars, if only for a brief period of time.

Please, be careful.

Published or Updated on: October 1, 2008 by Alvin Starkman © 2008


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