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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.

Pinkbike Gives Taichung Singletrack The Hollywood Treatment: Incredible Video

For all you mountain bikers out there.... Here is a spectacular video of what Taiwan has to offer.

This is what those bikes are made for, and not just for negotiating loose bricks on the bike path. I would love to get my CX bike out there.

Taiwan is a place of diversity and extremes: from busy factories to dense jungle, from white sand beaches to snow-capped peaks, from deep marble gorges to bustling city; Taiwan has it all. I had an image of what to expect when I first made the trip to Taiwan 2 years ago. My mind conjured up images of concrete sprawl, skyscrapers, and smog-spewing chimneys littering the skyline. The oft-seen label "Made in Taiwan" is testament enough to the sheer scale of industry. However, I was about to see another side of Taiwan altogether.

With a huge part of the mountain bike industry based in Taiwan, long time freerider, Richie Schley made the pilgrimage to experience a side of the bike world that often goes unseen. This is his experience.