I’d be interested to know from Media Nation readers whether Boston Globe reporter Tania deLuzuriaga was violating the state’s motor-vehicle laws in her test drive of a Vespa.
Let’s start by asking whether a Vespa is a scooter or a motorcycle. If it’s a scooter, then she was definitely violating the law. It’s illegal to drive a scooter fast than 20 mph, and the operator must stay to the right-hand side at all times.
DeLuzuriaga makes it clear that she was prepared to go as fast as 35, the Vespa’s top speed. Also, the photo of her on the front of City & Region — not online, for some reason — shows her on the left side of the right-hand lane, nearly on the dividing line, with a motorcyclist to her right.
But that’s just throat-clearing. For legal purposes, the Vespa is probably considered a motorcycle. And here’s what she writes in her lede:
It was an all-too-familiar situation: Ahead, a red light glared, and bumper-to-bumper traffic stretched as far as the eye could see. Taxis honked. Drivers sighed. Nobody was happy — except the reporter on the white Vespa who slipped into the space between the lanes and nimbly passed among the cars. Pedestrians stopped to watch, and drivers’ eyes gleamed with irritation and envy as the reporter made her way to the front of the line, turned right, and zipped off on her way.
As I understand it, it’s illegal for the operator of any motor vehicle, most definitely including motorcycles, to wiggle between lanes of traffic. I think this is the relevant law, although it doesn’t seem quite to get at it:
When any way has been divided into lanes, the driver of a vehicle shall so drive that the vehicle shall be entirely within a single lane, and he shall not move from the lane in which he is driving until he has first ascertained if such movement can be made with safety. The operators of motorcycles shall not ride abreast of more than one other motorcycle, shall ride single file when passing, and shall not pass any other motor vehicle within the same lane, except another motorcycle.
In addition, the state Registry of Motor Vehicles advises motorcyclists, “Never weave between lanes.” The RMV’s advice tends to be the law.
Finally, Media Nation’s Grammar and Style Police have ruled that when writing a first-person story, you should use “I” instead of referring to yourself in the third person. Unless you’re Wade Boggs. Which deLuzuriaga is not.