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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dunhua Bike Lane Debacle: City Puts NT$60 Million Failure To Rest

My quick synopsis and commentary of a recent article from the Chinese language news wire:

Taipei City has finally been forced to terminate the ill-fated Dunhua Bike Lanes.

The Dunhua bike lane was launched 2 years ago with much fanfare, but due to poor design othere have been several serious accidents and numerous complaints. Therefore, after a lengthy evaluation by the Bureau of Transportation, the lanes have been slated for removal.

The lanes have been routinely criticized for having been constructed as a knee jerk reaction to the first bicycle boom in 2008, when the city sought to win political points on the heels of a trend.

Now, the city is proposing a redesign. But after an initial NT60 million initial investment, Taipei residents are reluctant to fund the redesign fearing a continuation of the same type of ill planned, ill thought-out city project that has been the hall mark of Taiwanese urban bike trails.

The lane runs from Min Quan E. Rd. to Keelung Rd. at 4.6km.

Ever since its opening in Sept. 2009, the city has received regular complaints. Many residents feel the basic design has many errors, for example the rubberized material is easily damaged and becomes slick in the rain. Furthermore, the lane cuts between pedestrian walkways and bus lanes forcing citizens to dodge bike traffic in order to catch a bus.

What this really shows is how little the government really considers the needs of cyclists before spending public funds on these types of projects. Often these bike paths are a quick means to pander to the electorate and to spread money to various construction firms.

It is disappointing when a city loses a bike lane when they should be creating them, but that is the risk of letting unrelated factors influence necessary infrastructure. If you're just going to do it half-assed, then don't do it at all.