Thursday, September 2, 2010

(Video) Taiwan's Cycling Culture




I found this short video produced in part by the Taiwan News, to give a short summary of cycling related issues in Taiwan.

I think the video goes a step further in demonstrating the importance cycling plays in Taiwan's new identity and how Taiwanese have taken the bicycle as a symbol of national pride. The fact that they even produced a video is evidence for this.

Imaging the bicycle as symbolic of Taiwan or an expression of Taiwan pride may have its roots in the bicycle being at the same time, a prestige item of luxury/leisure which conveys social status, a symbol of technological aptitude, and an imaging of the environmental awareness that divides groups of people into various constructs of social order (i.e. First World vs. Third World). The bicycle may also symbolize a type of personal freedom while allowing for the imagined safety of a group activity, the type that all Taiwanese are socialized to participate in through school clubs.

Michael Turton's photo essay on campaign signs helps demonstrate the salience of the bicycle image and its meaning to Taiwanese. Although many people all over the world ride bicycles and it represents different things in different places, Taiwanese have taken the bike and infused it with their own meanings, making the bicycle a very unique expression of Taiwanese culture.

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