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Monday, April 2, 2012

Pedaling From Petrol: Taiwan Facing Second Wave of Cycling?

With the presidential elections in the rearview mirror, Taiwan's central government has ended its subsidies on gasoline, resulting in a 10% rise in fuel prices around the country.

While drivers are outraged by the sudden rise in fuel prices, many local bicycle retailers are looking to benefit from the new penalties at the pump.

During a similar spike in oil prices in 2008, Taiwanese started looking to the bicycle as a means to help mitigate the higher costs of driving.

This is really what initiated the "cycling revolution" in Taiwanas orders for new bikes more than doubled.

When prices became more manageable, many riders went back to motorized transport and the bikes were mothballed. Bike shops closed as quickly as they were opened.

Sadly, this is often the state of the bicycle as transportation.

It is a response to oil prices rather than an antidote. It is not seen as a long term fix, but a temporary diversion... much like the artificial prices Taiwan has long hung on the gas pump.

Eventually these high prices will become the status quo, and with over a decade of income stagnation amid rising inflation, the high cost of regularly driving an automobile will be untenable for many in the long run.

With the millions spent on cycling for leisure and tourism, the question remains whether enough has been done in the municipalities to accommodate the bicycle as a permanent fixture.


I guess it could be worse. It could be Hong Kong, where the SAR seems to have taken a more adversarial approach.


  1. I never went back to the car (at least not fully) once I started riding a bike. I have a folding bike though, so even though I drive some of the time now, I've always got the bike with me in the trunk - so if traffic is bad, or I don't feel like filling up on gas, I can just ride instead.

  2. Good to hear! Since August we have put 5000km (about 3000mi.) on our car. There are better ways of getting around.

    1. Definitely. Looks like you're getting in a good bit of riding too!

  3. Not as much as I'd like. As a new dad there are lots of times I choose to stay home. :D