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Friday, April 9, 2010

Taiwan Review on Taiwan's Future in Cycles

The Taiwan Review has a lengthy article, full of propaganda puff from the Government Information Office, about the government's plans to integrate cycling into the transportation matrix.
In July 2009 and January this year, Lin was among the government officials and experts who reported to Republic of China (ROC) President Ma Ying-jeou in the presidential office about the establishment of biking path networks around Taiwan. In response to these opinion leaders and given the increasing popularity of biking activities, the president called for policies and regulations specifically covering bicycles, as well as the integration of bicycles with other mainstream means of transportation.
The word "Taiwan" doesn't appear until the third paragraph... just sayin'
Lin points out that, in contrast to the strong commitment to biking seen in some foreign cities such as London and Paris, however, cycling has been promoted in Taiwan at the central government level, with the result that resources have been spread somewhat sparsely across the country...
I blogged about this earlier, contrasting Taiwan's dislocated and inefficient system with the Seattle Master Plan.
Although the MOTC is moving to take the lead for national biking policy, projects to develop local bike paths continue to be financed by the Ministry of the Interior’s Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) and the Cabinet-level Sports Affairs Council (SAC). According to a construction plan by the SAC, a budget of NT$4 billion (US$125 million) will be devoted to the development of an integrated network of biking paths around Taiwan from 2009 to 2012, continuing similar efforts started by the council in the early 2000s for sport and recreational purposes.
You can see by the alphabet soup above, how bureaucratic divisions, budget rivalries and lack of cross-agency communication can impede the process of integrating cycling into the transportation grid. To expand on the paragraph above, it is obvious that cycling in Taiwanese officialdom is neither transportation nor a sport.
Despite the great controversy and initial complaints from car drivers and motorcyclists about designated biking lanes on Dunhua Road in Taipei City, Liu says the city government will stick to its program to develop and maintain a network of bike paths in downtown Taipei. As for the quieter areas in local communities, which Liu notes are already a favorable environment for cycling, speed limits for motorized vehicles will be reduced to ensure a more carefree, safer ride.
This disaster has been criticized repeatedly for its deeply flawed conception, construction and effectiveness. Rather than add another transportation debacle to the growing list compiled by the Ma/Hao Mayoral administrations in Taipei, the city government will do what it does best---nothing.

While the Urban Road Act has yet to include bicycles explicitly, as some critics and activists call for, the Legislative Yuan did pass an amendment to the Highway Law toward the end of 2007 allowing for specific lanes for bicyclists and pedestrians on existing roads or alternative routes. Generally speaking, bicyclists are supposed to travel in the slow traffic lane—the lane nearest the side of the road—but sometimes they forget that they are more vulnerable than motorcyclists and car drivers, leading to quite a few traffic accidents, says the MOTC’s Lin Kuo-shian. “More often than not, bicyclists are unclear about whether they’re using a ‘vehicle’ or are just a faster moving pedestrian,” he says.

Despite the high election year talk, cyclists are still largely off the radar and weren't even included in the URA. What gets me about this paragraph is the "blame the cyclist" approach. I have blogged on traffic safety before, and the overwhelming factor in Taiwan's dangerous streets is the lack of willing enforcement. If traffic enforcement is regular, fair and consistent, the drivers learn to expect it and drive accordingly. I know this. In college I was a parking officer. It works.


  1. Terrible article, barely readable -- total trash.

  2. Exactly whay will happen. Nothing... biking in the slowest lane? Sorry, those lanes are occupied by trucks, buses, parked motorcycles, slow moving or parked taxis and anything else that does not belong there. See my blog for details: