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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

YouBike: Is Renting A Bike In Taipei Right For You?

Here is a video from We View Taiwan, explaining the Taipei YouBike system, which, if we believe the PR, has seen a miraculous rapid turn-around from embarrassing disaster, to shining star of Taipei.

In a recent article in the Taipei Times, the Taipei government unveiled plans to expand the system and award new subsidies to the contractors.

As the city government and its partner in the bicycle program, Giant Bicycles, celebrate the scheme’s one-millionth ride, Taipei’s Department of Transportation is to establish five rental stops today at Lingyun Market, Nangang Elementary School, Nangang Software Park, and the Mass Rapid Transit System’s (MRT) Houshanpia and Gongguan stations as part of its plan to set up 162 stops across the city by next year. 
Currently, there are 41 rental stops at stations along the MRT’s Bannan, Wenhu and Luzhou lines, 11 of which are in Xinyi District (信義). The most-used stops are at Taipei City Hall and Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall MRT stations, as well as at National Taiwan Normal University, the department said.

There are still plenty of bugs in the system. Most notably, there are all these bikes and no practical space to safely ride.

Taiwan Cycling Tourism Coming Up Roses?


China Airlines, Tawan's flag carrier Airline, has stepped up to sponsor a float for the 2012 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California as part of the annual festivities surrounding the Rose Bowl. The float will be made to highlight Taiwan's cycling tourism; a major theme of the Ma administration's second term. 

The float draws on themes and images that have been frequently promulgated by the government in its bid to entrench tourism (especially cycling tourism) as a political and economic staple in Taiwan. 

The recurring themes of Taiwan as a cycling tourist's "paradise" have comprised much of the Tourism Bureau's propaganda over the last calendar year. 

Although I believe many of these claims are half-baked and not ready for sale, I do find it interesting in how well coordinated the government has been in targeting its audience and reinforcing a consistent message through disparate media streams. 

Although China Airlines is not directly owned by the ROC government, it is owned and managed by the China Aviation Development Foundation; a government owned aviation firm that falls outside of regular bureaucratic oversight. 

It seems touting tourism is about the only policy the Ma administration has been able to construct a coherent and constant message around despite its obvious political pitfalls as it undermines and replaces traditional patronage streams with risky and potentially untenable alternatives.

Decide for yourself. How does the pitch match the product?

Here is what they would like to sell: 

Cycling Through Paradise
Artistic Entertainment Services
Height: 35′
Width: 18′
Length: 55′
In celebration of Taiwan’s Cycling Festival, China Airline’s presents “Cycling Through Paradise”. The 2013 entry pays homage to the annual Taiwan Cycling Festival.
The goal behind the annual Taiwan Cycling Festival is to introduce the Taiwan cycling experience to people of Taiwan and to people overseas looking for new, healthy, and inviting travel destinations.Taiwan’s breathtaking landscape – oversized sea cliffs and densely forested mountains are best seen on two wheels. In recent years Taiwan has embraced the world of cycling with great enthusiasm and the creation of thousands of kilometers of cycling paths, including two round-the-island routes, and a host of other cycling friendly infrastructure projects. Some of the best cycling routes in the world pass through Taiwan’s beautiful scenery.
The deck of the float features swirling groupings of orchids, iris, roses and mums in brilliant colors creating the look of a crashing waterfall, magnificent palm trees and native architecture. Along for the ride are cyclists pedaling through the majestic landscape. China Airlines began its Rose Parade participation in 1987. This year’s entry will “wow” the crowd with its magnificent floral detail and cultural beauty!

Read more at 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Taiwan 2012: The Year In Cycles

My 2012 riding year is coming to a close and I can't shut the door on it fast enough. Between fatherhood, equipment issues, weather and some injury recovery, every weekend felt like it was starting over. It seemed like as soon as I put a few weeks of good training and riding together, I would have to take a couple more weeks off. I never really got back into 2011 form and I hope to do a better job of it this year.

I thought I should put together a few photos from my rides in 2012 on a cycling year I would like to forget. Despite the difficulties, I was able to get a few nice shots of what it means to ride a bike in Taiwan.


The red bridge in Nantou City served as the destination for my first real ride of post-fatherhood. 

Titanium Chainstay
Lights from the Tainan HSR station reflect off my rear chainstay as I bag the bike after 180km of riding. The dirt sticks to the frame like Shake 'N Bake. 

Trees from the clouds in Sanlinxi. The trees are used to anchor the hillsides. 

Bamboo is still widely used as a cheap construction tool. The shoots are harvested and eaten.

Bike View
Michael and Dom discuss something on Baguashan. 

You can still see a few of these old mud-brick houses around Taiwan. They are made of a mixture combining rice husk, mud, and ox excrement. 

Seven S Bend Chainstays
A work of art.

On the Northern Cross Island Highway looking up at Lala Shan. I really enjoyed the scenery on the second day. 

Jeff works his way along one of Taiwan's signature squiggly roads. 

One of my favorite pictures of the year. Here, I worked to pedal and control the bike with one hand as I followed Dom on the cliffs above the great descent into Iilan. The striations in the rock allude to the sheer drop that is disguised by fog. 

Moments after the picture above was taken, we entered the tall trees where the fog gave it an aura of mystery. I cooled this picture down a little bit to really bring out that feeling. 

I really liked the colors of the fallen leaves against the illuminated greens. 

A self portrait at the drink station on Bagua Shan's Fengshan temple. The scuffs and scratches that obscure the reflection really bring out my feeling at the tail end of a ride. 

I really like this picture as it shows one of those chance encounters between groups of cyclists along the same route. There is always something to talk about. 

It is rare to ever get a shot of Taichung like this. It is usually shrouded in haze by 10:00am. The road to get these shots was unbearably steep. 

Needles from a conifer on Daxue Shan. On this ride I tried to slow things down a little and appreciate the details around me. Sometimes we are so busy enjoying the vastness of the landscape, we overlook the beauty up close. 

I really liked the colors on this stage for Taiwanese puppet theater.

Sometimes the details in an old house really draw me in. This house in Songboling made an excellent study of traditional architecture. 

Seven Axiom SL muddy
This is another one of my favorites. I love the juxtaposition between the caked on filth, and the gleaming downtube of a high-end custom frame. It really gets to the heart of the matter: They are bikes--use 'em. 

Taiwanese Blue Sandal
The polyurethane sandal is a ubiquitous symbol of Taiwanese culture. They are the multipurpose footwear of Taiwan. Unfortunately, some pompous colonial asshat decided they were too "low class" and thus they have become regarded as a pejorative symbol of Taiwanese low culture in contrast to the haughty Chinese nationalist culture. A few years back there was a movement to transform them into a positive symbol of Taiwanese culture, but it was soon used by the KMT in a political stunt and the movement quickly faded. 

This pool of water caught my eye during a knee rest around Somboling. Here, another symbol of Taiwanese low culture, the betel nut tree, sits as a stump. In black and white it reminded me of bone. 

Waiting for the light. 

For this picture I actually had to stop in the middle of a climb (when I was in a really good rhythm). The scene looked too good to pass on. 

Regular readers may have noticed my interest in riverbeds. I often see interesting shapes and shadows below and try to capture them as abstract art. For this shot I really liked the chisel-like cuts in the sand. It almost looks like plaster. 

Broken Cups
In Shigang you can come across this pile of rejected ceramic from a roadside factory. Trains, cups, vases and other ceramic ware is piled high beside the road. 

On the climb up the Miaoli 130 there is this interesting lattice of grow boxes. 

Sanyi Interchange
A testament to Taiwan's love affair with elevated concrete. 

An unlikely bridge crossing. 

Strawberry Farm
I liked this picture of strawberry planting because the three women are in concert, but the man at the front is doing something different. 

A blossom suspended on grass. 

Another self portrait that shows how my face has aged this year. 


For this shot I rode with the camera high up over my head for a different angle. I like the image of the team drifting off into the distance. 

In some shots I like to pull color out. In this shot I wanted to play with angles and colors. I especially like the solid field of black in the corner. 
Self portrait. 

Kristi has been a dedicated rider for years. I think this photo shows her dedication. 

This was a splendid day for Taichung cycling as several disparate strands of the cycling community all joined together like a giant Japanese robot to form an unlikely peloton of various degrees of the sport. Here, Will and Attie look relaxed in the saddle. 

Shadows and their riders. This was a fun shot to bring up the contrast. 

Dom and James cycling along a squiggle of the Nantou 147. It shows a paced, measured ride and it is easy to imagine the conversation between the two riders. 

A large group of passionate cyclists in Taiwan. 

Image 1
My daughter greeting me after the Tour of Changhua. It took a bit of the sting out of my horrible showing. 

Kaohsiung riders. I love the horizontal lines in the bike lane and the road. 

Floating bike.

One of the creatures along the road. 

This picture announced Fall. The reds and yellows make it look fiery. 

A tribute to my bike. 

When I saw the tracks in the riverbank I thought of the moon landing sites (if you believe in those). 

One of Taiwan's many tunnels. 

A rare self portrait that looks a little less staged. I feeling of uncertainty. 

Ali River
The mountains on the wrong day can be intimidating and scary. Part o that effect is in the clouds. 

Seven Axiom SL Climbing
Another tribute to a bike and to climbing. 

From my last big trip before a New Year finale. The colors and clouds were too incredible to miss. 

I loved the way the trees and their colors reflected a near mirror image in the water. 


For this shot I played with the depth of field as much as you can with a point and shoot camera. I really tried to show how amazingly massive this this landscape is.