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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Paved With Good Intentions: More Trouble for Taipei Bicycle Lanes

According to this report from, Taipei has taken two steps forward and one step back in implementing a grid of bicycle lanes throughout the city.

The project, which was initiated by Mayor Ko Wen-je, an avid cyclist and former bike commuter, sought to better incorporate the bicycle into the urban transportation network. One major problem with Taipei's YouBike program-- a system of bike rentals through the city-- is that there are realistically few dedicated places to ride. Cyclists and bicycle commuters have had to fight both traffic and pedestrians in their battle for space in Taipei.

Of all the plans proposed thus far, Mayor Ko seems to have the right idea. But as a fortune cookie warned me a long time ago, "The road to hell is paved wit good intentions." (True story...and it was then that I realized that all fortune cookies were not positively ambiguous.)

It now seems that after spending NT180 million, the contractors responsible for the bike lane construction had precious little experience in actually designing bike lanes, resulting in some potentially hazardous, expensive and avoidable boo boos.

According to the Chinese language report, the city contractors used thick construction grade paint for path markings. The paint is a known hazard to cyclists as it produces an extremely slick surface in wet weather. The contractors also used porous asphalt and left metal utility covers exposed and with wide gaps. All of which pose a potential danger to cyclists and have been designed out of existing networks in Japan and other countries.

Here's to hoping Taipei gets its bike lanes squared away to be held up as an example for the rest of Taiwan to follow.