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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Radiation fears Prompt German Cyclists To Drop Tour of Taiwan

The German squad has decided to take precautions against the risk of radiation exposure and dropped from their scheduled appearance at the Tour of Taiwan.

This decision was based largely on the advise of the German government, which issued a travel advisory to the Asia/Pacific region.

According the a quote from the article:

"The cyclists said they were advised by German authorities to avoid visiting the Asia Pacific, not least Taiwan, which is so close to Japan," said Sara Chen, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Taipei Cycling Association.
Ironically, most of the radiation appears to be blowing out toward North America.


Mueller? Mueller?

Only one German cyclist will skip out on the Tour of Taiwan. Dirk Mueller decided to drop due to radiation fears.

In other parts of the news...

With both natural and man made disasters having killed scores of Japanese in the worst human calamity to strike Japan since the bombing of Nagasaki, I am sure the first thing one your minds was how this disaster was going to affect the price of the bicycle parts you so badly covet.

Luckily, you don't have to concern yourself with this problem...

In a syndicated report from the CNA:

Taiwan - (CNA) - Giant Global group, the world's largest bicycle manufacturer, said Wednesday the shopping rush for bicycles in some quake-affected areas in Japan will strain the supply of bicycles on the market.

Media reports have said bicycles were sold out in some disaster areas in Japan, including Tokyo, that were stricken by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake in March 11 after the Japanese government announced rolling blackouts. Such blackouts have limited the availability of mass transportation, such as subways and high speed railways.

"The earthquake will definitely increase demand for bicycles for a period of time, but it will also lead to supply problems, " said King Liu, president of Giant Manufacturing and chairman of the Giant Global group, on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the Taipei International Cycle Show.

"The temporary demand is not good for the whole industry and our company because we have operated with the expectation of a balance between the market supply and demand," he said.

Although Giant is taking emergency measures to increase bicycle supply to Japan, the Taiwan-based bicycle maker still faces difficulties to meet the boosting demand, Liu said.

I would like to know if anyone with experience in the logistics in gathering and transporting large amounts of bicycles overseas has considered organizing a bicycle drive for Japan to donate used bikes for the victims of the earthquake. This would be a wonderful gesture to the Japanese, who have seen their cars vanish among their other possessions, and their built environment destroyed.

The bicycle would not only be a practical form of transportation in the affected areas, but it would be a great way to think about rebuilding those areas in the wake of a disaster that is the result of our reliance on more dangerous modes of energy production.

Bikes are also great for escaping from any more tsunamis.

Bikes Are Fun... and More. Incorporating the Bike Into Our Lives

I have been told a few times to quit over thinking the bike. "Bikes are fun".

This is true... Bikes are fun! But I think if we simply focus on one single aspect of riding a bicycle, in this case "fun", we lose track of so many of the other opportunities and challenges bicycles provide.

Yes, bicycles are fun. They are also a multi-billion dollar industry. They are tools. They are recreational. They are utilitarian and political in how they are used by political actors and activists to promote change. Bicycles, at their most basic, allow for all types of physical and social mobility to occur. They are transformative.

Bikes can be a lot of things.

In Taiwan we have seen private companies and the government put a growing focus on recreation and leisure, which is fine, but it is often at the expense of all the other qualities a bicycle can provide. I have seen a growing emphasis on leisure over transportation infrastructure. There is money to be made in leisure and tourism... and so I can understand why there is such an emphasis on simply recreation.

Luckily, some urban areas like Kaohsiung are working hard to ensure the bike can become more than just a toy for use in "other" places. Bicycles need to be localized and incorporated into a part of the transportation grid and as a way of life. This can not happen without metropoles that are willing to facilitate the bike and make space for its use, and bike companies willing to produce bikes for the way people live. This is where we need to see greater commitment.

Then I come across this.

Here is an excellent piece from The City Fix on what Kaohsiung has been up to.

In a country where there is nearly one motorbike for every two people, Kaohsiung has 766 motorbikes for every 1,000 city residents. To get citizens off their motorcycles and scooters, Kaohsiung instituted Taiwan’s first urban bicycle rental program. Kaohsiung’s City Public Bike (C-Bike) program includes 4,500 bikes at 50 rental locations. Bike rentals through the program aren’t free, but the government offers subsidies to encourage citizens to use the city’s more than 150 kilometers of bike paths (the first-of-their-kind in Taiwan.) Kaohsiung’s efforts have led CNN to name it the third most bike-friendly city in Asia.