February 18, 2007

Top 10 most dangerous factors, when riding a motorcycle in Yerevan


Even though they are being removed for the 4th year already, the rails are still there - looking innocent, but in reality very slippery and dangerous. I don't know any motorcyclist who didn't slip on a rail yet (except myself), so always keep that in mind every time you come to cross a rail. Never ever pass the rail in parallel. The closer you keep your crossing angle to 90 degrees, the less likely you are to skid. Do not rapidly accelerate or brake, when any of your wheels is (or will shortly be) on a rail. In places like Komitasi Shuka or the metro station Barekamutyun, it's better to wait until the freaking minivans finally move, rather than to get on the 4th lane between the 2 rails and push the throttle.


If the rails tip may seem a bit common for all cities in the world, this one here is a bit more Yerevan-specific. Pedestrians here are like characters of a video game, who appear randomly in random locations, and your mission is to successfully dodge them (or else it's a game-over, baby). They cross the street wherever they want, whenever they want and however they want. Walking in the middle of the street and talking to friends is not a rare occasion, and the police doesn't give a flying damn. In fact, if they catch you in a really tough situation, when they're walking in the middle of the street blind-spot area, and you hardly squeeze your both brakes to stop in a centimeter from them, don't be amused if they call you a whore. Man. Also, keep in mind - no matter the situation, if you hit a pedestrian, you'll be the one blamed.


More specifically, dogs. There are dozens of homeless dogs in Yerevan who live a hungry and miserable life and hate happy people - motorcyclists. Some of them hate the turning wheels, some of them hate the engine sound, and few of them hate the rider himself. Slowly approach the dog, then quickly accelerate away. Do not perform extraordinary actions and movements, do not kick, or else you may fall. Specifically beware of the dogs who bark at you, not the bike: they may jump on you. Also, in the suburbs of Yerevan, you may encounter calf and horses. Be very careful when you are close, or else you may get an improper and dangerous reaction.


Hell lots of them. There usually are 3 types of potholes: worn asphalt, construction work or an open sewer. All of these are common, but if you fall into the last one, you will most definitely end up in a hospital with a permanently damaged motorcycle. Always try to dodge the potholes to the right direction (the opposite of left, not the opposite of wrong, though you could say that), and if at the end you realize you don't have enough time and space left to dodge the pothole, straighten the bike, grab the handlebar firm and get into it. Unless it's an open sewer, because in that case it's better to skid to the right and fall. Be especially careful when riding in the rain and in the nights.


Nights? They are not only the times when the potholes are totally invisible. Nights are specifically dangerous in Yerevan, because in the nights the car drivers do not stop on the red traffic light!! Why? I don't know, but they do 90kmh and don't give no shit about any single traffic regulation. The reason may be that they are late. Another reason may be that there is no traffic police in the nights. Whatever the reason, be double, triple careful when riding in the nights. Double check all crossroads before entering them. Check your mirrors with increased frequency. When crossing a crossroad, protect yourself with other vehicles going the same direction at your left and at your right. Nights are a survival, and the mission is to make it to the destination!

Minivan buses (Marshrutkas)

Minivan buses in Yerevan are called Marshrutkas and are driven by creatures called 'Marshrutka drivers'. They look like they are 'built' into their minivans, rather planted, rather: integrated! But the sad part is that the resulting 'integrated vehicle' does not have turn signals, a horn, uses the driving license of his friend, carries 40 pedestrians having a maximum limit of 15, stops randomly in random locations and occasionally has its door open when driving full-speed on the 3rd lane!! They are swearing-resistant, horn-resistant and passing-light-resistant, nothing works with them. They may turn to the 1st lane straight from the last lane without using the turn signal (which is broken anyway) just to unload a passenger on the precise coordinates. Never ride on the right lane of a minivan. Just don't get close and you'll be alright.

Trolley cables

Yes, they're high above, but sometimes they just tear apart and hang down. Believe me: a hanged down trolley rope is really hard to notice and to expect, since it is a relatively rare encounter, but it is very dangerous and will fall you down 100%! There can't really be an advice here except wearing a helmet and being always extra careful when riding on a trolleybus-enabled street.


Here's something to think about: last year most of Armenia's economic growth came from the construction sector. Here's another thing to think about: they say that sand for a motorcycle is more dangerous than ice. Now combine these two. Scary? It should be! I've had my most embarrassing fallovers because of sand, so there's a good lesson to learn – do not mess with it! Rapid braking, turning or even rapid accelerating on sand may and will fall you over, and if you're riding a shiny cruiser like I am, the nickels will be so scratched that you'll think about replacing your exhaust pipes ever since! Sand is very, very dangerous. Do not follow a construction truck carrying it. Do not ride close to construction sites. Do not ride close to the pavement. When on sand, keep the handlebar firm and straight, do not turn, brake or accelerate rapidly. Falling on sand is painful, ugly and embarrassing.


Not as extreme as the minivan buses, but in much bigger quantities than the minivans can ever be. There are different types of cars to beware of. I personally look for white 4x4 LADAs. Now I hate to overgeneralize, but the experience shows a total lack of responsibility and driving ethics among the owners of these models. I assume a serious neuropsychological paper could be written about why irresponsible asses are subconsciously attracted to the white color and shape of that specific model, but that isn't our business anyway, and we will simply try to keep away from them, as well as from any other cars with ridiculously plain license plate numbers. Police cars, ambulance and fire trucks are also quite dangerous. Another type of dangerous cars are the taxis and the cars that obviously come from a distant village of Armenia – they haven't seen a motorcycle in traffic and don't know how to react to it!


If you are a local, you can skip this and jump to the last two sentences. If you're a foreigner, Vardevar is a national Armenian holiday that has roots in pagan Armenian culture. We can call it a 'national heritage'. Vardevar is celebrated on the third Sunday of the July month. The problem is in the means of its celebration. Basically most of Armenians come out to the streets on that day with gallons of water and pour it on each other violently. However, since civil society (in a broad meaning) is in its stage of establishment yet in Armenia, these people do not know when to stop, when to do and when to not do. This causes numerous road accidents and injuries. Needless to say, motorcyclists attract an even brighter attention and have less chances of passing unspotted. Simply put, riders in Armenia do not ride on Vardevar. Period.

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