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Monday, November 14, 2011

Phil Gaimon Blogs Taiwan for VeloNews... and gets a little lost.

You can't control how people are going to interpret their experiences... no matter how hard the Taiwan Tourism Bureau tries... and in his blog piece at VeloNews, Phil Gaimon attempts to win an invite back to next year's Taiwan Cup.

We also had some unbelievable training rides. I would never have considered Taiwan as a spot for tourism or cycling until this trip, but the rides there were some of the best I’ve ever done, no joke. Since they actually use bikes for transportation in Taiwan, there are bike lanes everywhere, and out in the country, bike-specific roads connect all the small towns, sometimes through really tight, barely-paved paths, which were fun to rip with tubulars, although Isaac was always scared of cobras on the smaller roads, which is no way to go through life, and not a bad way to die, if you ask me. We didn’t see any snakes (insert dirty joke here), or pandas or monkeys for that matter.

What Gaimon really gets right is the fact that Taiwan is a real cycling treat for the experienced cyclist or cycling adventurer. I try to bear testament to this fact in my weekend blog posts.

Aside from trying to reward his hosts for their largesse, I am bewildered by his comments regarding an infrastructure for bicycle transportation.

For leisure cycling Taiwan has made some great strides. There are great routes for riders of any level of experience and fitness. This is a check in the plus column if my friends at the Tourism Bureau are keeping track. Where Taiwan is really lacking is in its infrastructure for cycling as transportation or utility. The government has failed by and large to think of cycling beyond tourism dollars and weekend entertainment.

  • There are few direct and effective bike paths for regular transportation like commuting.
  • There are few busses equipped to carry bicycles.
  • There are few safe places to store bicycles in or around busy urban hubs, such as shopping centers.
  • The rules for bicycle trains are a labyrinth of official jargon and nonsense.
  • There is no commitment or political will to transform the transportation system into a safe and civil environment for cyclists.

Sadly, with his comments about Taiwanese using bikes for transportation and pandas, I think Mr. Gaimon mistakenly thought he was in China.

Don't miss this lovely and lively discussion on Taiwanese vs. Chinese bikes at The Lovely Bike.