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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

YouBike You Know: The Guardian Promotes Taipei YouBike Program

Taxpayer Funded Bike Path in Daya Township, Taichung City

The Guardian has a couple (HERE and HERE)of successive pieces to promote the YouBike system. I think the YouBike system and Taipei bicycle lanes are becoming what they should have been when they started when the planning went into effect almost ten years ago. Both Mayor Ma and Mayor Hau approached cycling in Taipei from the perspective of bicycles as toys or sports equipment. They both emphasized the business oriented approach to cycling, where leisure cycling can cater to rental businesses, cafes, tourism and entertainment: a very bourgeoise view of one of the most transformative inventions in human history with the beneficiaries being the business and the entrepreneur. They tried to pump up interest in recreation cycling through the promotion of leisure bike paths outside the city; a movie to stimulate domestic bicycle sales. After unleashing thousands of rental bikes into a city without any space for them, the report from Jennings sums up the problem.

“We’re now making plans for education and promotion work,” said Liu Chia-yu, a division chief under the city’s transportation department. “For bike riders, we’re saying not to compete with pedestrians, and for people on foot, if you run into a bike give it some space.”    
Thousands of riders have hit the roads and they are only now making plans to educate for safety.

Mayor Ko, on the other hand, has had the political will to take on the city infrastructure with a tenacity bordering on arrogance. He wants the city a certain way and he is going to try to do it. A grid of bike lanes and actual cycling space is really what nobody had wanted to address in the past. I hope other cities will follow suit. 

Sadly, a lot of time and money was wasted catering to special interests.