Posted on: March 22, 2013

Can Taiwan be a Cycling Island to the World? Check Out!

By Supriyo Das

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Can Taiwan be a Cycling Island to the World? Check Out!

Taiwan appears to be pretty focused in becoming a final destination for all cyclists by being the first cycling island in the world. However, it must apply brakes to its speed limits effectively and offer more space for cyclists if it aspires to achieve its aim of becoming the so-called cycling island, which is according to one of the visiting experts.

“The first thing I would tackle is speed,” European Cyclists’ Federation director Kevin Mayne said on Wednesday at the Taipei International Cycle Show. Perhaps, this glorifies the current state of events existing in the nation at this moment. The biggest advantage is that there no political or organizational flaws in this entire episode. The current government has to be lauded for sure after it took the bold step in order to promote cycling as a professional sport among all those interested.

Mayne, whose federation consists of European national cycling organizations, reacted astutely by saying that speed limits in Taiwan are too high for cars and scooters to coexist with cyclists. This creates a kind of dangerous pursuit for all those involved. Resolving the issue on time is something what that is needed in the first place.

Bicycle-friendly cities generally have speed limits of below 30 kilometers per hour, he said, citing German and Dutch cities as perfect examples.

He maintained that lowering speed limits is also a cheap solution to changing Taiwan into a cycling paradise, as nothing needs to be built.

“What you need is political will and enforcement,” he added.

Mayne said cities in Taiwan should ensure that more space is available for cyclists and take bolder steps to enhance the environment, citing New York, Paris, London and Vienna as examples of cities that are doing so and upon which Taiwan could model itself.

He informed that the bike-sharing system in Paris, for instance, provided 15,000 bikes when it was first launched, while Taipei’s bike-sharing system, Youbike, currently offers only 1,500. This information could be taken as a comparison between both the countries in order to maintain the perfect balance regarding the growing craze for this sport.

“Too many cities have started [bicycle schemes] too small,” he said.

Taiwan’s strong bicycle industry could be chosen to the nation’s benefit in developing it into a cycling paradise, Mayne added.

The Taiwanese people’s underlying interest in cycling — evident in the fact that many people still ride bikes on the roads despite the traffic conditions — is also an advantage, he added.

He said there are economic benefits to turning Taiwan into a “cycling island,” including savings in public health, transportation costs and road repair, lower carbon emissions, better air quality, less traffic congestion and a more vibrant and healthier society.

As per King Liu, chairman of Taiwan’s bicycle titan Giant, the government pumped in NT$3 billion (US$100.85 million) to construct 2,088km of bike lanes around the nation from 1999 to 2011. Hopefully, a comprehensive velodrome too could be on cards if everything goes smoothly.

The government plans to invest a further NT$1.2 billion to build more bike lanes in the next four years, he included.

Tags: Taiwan

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