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Monday, May 3, 2010

The U.S.B.R.S. and Taiwan's Potential

In the past I have blogged a little bit about Taiwan's need and potential for an integrated bicycle-only transportation grid. Taiwan has several independent bicycle paths and some routes that are designated for bicycles, but these are often barely functional election-day pork that mix cycles and cement trucks, or leisure paths for weekenders. Lawmakers insist bicycles should be classified as slow moving vehicles, yet the reality remains that bicycles are regarded as toys for recreation by the government reps with the funding.

In the United States a group of cyclists and citizens has come up with the U.S.B.R.S. or United States Bicycle Route System; an interstate system designated for bicycles. The system includes a National Corridor Plan that links major metropoles through bicycle routes to take the particular needs of bicycles into consideration as they do with the needs of drivers. The system links the entire country by bicycle route. This could be an expensive system to maintain and police in a country the size of the U.S.A.

Taiwan is smaller and densely populated enough to give an integrated cycling network an infrastructure to build from. It will take administrative sincerity to get something like this done... and we know the powers behind the curtain of Taiwanese politics never saw an infrastructure project they didn't like. The right people just need to figure out how to make money out of an integrated system. It is possible. My recent trip to Kaohsiung reminded me how far a person can go on a bike, and how much of the infrastructure is built around the automobile. Still, Taiwanese love the idea and romance behind the mythic "Round Island" bike trip. If only it could be done safer and better supported, more people would be willing to give it a try.

They key is interagency cooperation and coordination to quit wasting tax dollars on bike paths to nowhere and put the power of the pedal to work with a direction toward connectivity.

Anyway, something for Taiwanese cyclists to think about.

1 comment:

  1. The Netherlands is a smaller country with a wonderful system of road separate bicycle infrastructure. Check out David Hembrow's blog for an English view of cycling in the Netherlands. It would be great for Taiwan to have something like that or the US for that matter.