Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A new road sign in Taipei

Can you guess it's meaning? No it's not a rain shelter for bikers. It could be "watch out, bikes ahead", or "Bike have to drive here". Why the sign is placed just where bike are moving and not in the middle of the road? Some bikers will try to avoid these paint because it's thick causing an safety issue. Also paint is a enemy of bikers. if it's wet, it's easy to slip. So... was tax payer money well spend? Were bikers asked for an opinion before spending the money? Who are the decision makers? Almost every 50 meters one sign for around 6 km, that is hundreds of signs... that is lot's of paint and work...

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Taipei Bike Ride

Look how it feels here

How the U-Bike works

Look at the video in English here

Taipei Problem #4

Some roads in Taipei are very wide, but all space goes to the cars. 3 lanes and no space possible for a bike lane to prevent bikers being harrassed by taxis and buses which like to cut off bikers, who have no any way of defense, just in front of them whenever they prefer? Why roads are only wide for motor powered vehicles?

Taipei Suggestion #3

These are useful. Ofcourse examples are debatable, These are just positive suggestions and food for thought. If you have pictures of other problems or positive suggestions, please send them to the email as provided in the first post here

Taipei Suggestion #2

We could use some of these.

Taipei Suggestion #1

Besides the suggestions provided for physically seperated bike lanes, here are a few other ideas. Why the Taipei version has only motorcyle signs?

Taipei Problem #3

In Taipei we are supposed to walk BIKES and not DOG. So now you know why when you see a person walking the bike. On the other side of this bridge you can bike, though it's not officially a bike lane. And it's very narrow and occupied with flower baskets which haven't seen a flower for the past 4 years (if ever)

Taipei Problem #2

A (motor)bike lane. Bicycles? Hmm. Well... it doesn't say not allowed. The funny thing is, this tunnel has a (motor) bike lane on one side but not on the other side. (it has a very narrow sidewalk on the other)

Taipei Problem #1

In our series of "Taipei Problems", here the first example. This is a tunnel that connects Fu-Shing North Road with the North of the city and goes underneath the airport. Initially this Tunnel was open for bikes, but after one fatal bike accident the Taipei City solution was this. Now, finally cars and motorcycles can drive as fast as posible and bikers have to take another (very small road) to get around the airport. With a tunnel maybe just 3 meters wider and a designer without a Ph.D degree (Permanent Head Damage) we could have bike lanes in this tunnel.

The Response

Thank you for your opinion. Mayor pays attention on your suggestion very much. He especially commands us to reply your question as soon as possible. Regarding to your suggestion about "The bike lane of Taipei ", We response as follows:

Between 2002 and 2007, we build over 58.5 kilometers bike lanes and 100 kilometers riverside bike lanes around the city. Moreover, we set a long-term plan to build over 150 kilometers bike lanes by 2010 and link city bike lanes and riverside bike lanes.

In addition, we have a plan to develop DunHua Road into a cyclist-friendly road by physically dedicated bike lane. In the future, the road along the MRT like Xinyi Road will also be improved with a dedicated bike lane.

In Xinyi District Bike rental stations, similar to those in Paris and Amsterdam, will be available this year. In the near future, bike rental stations will also be provided on DunHua Road.

The future development plan of bike lane will eventually link areas of Taipei by bike lanes. We hope people living in Taipei can bike to schools, offices, recreation and sports centers, and shopping malls. And we will take your suggestion to build safe and convenient bike lane systems.

Thank you for your opinions on the traffic of this city.
If further contact is required, welcome to keep in touch with us (te10246@mail.bote.taipei.gov.tw).

Best Regards,
Kuo Chung-Sheng, Director of Traffic Engineering Office, Taipei City Government

A letter to the Taipei City Mayor

This was a post to the Taipei City Mayor in May 2008. You can find the mayor's mailbox here

Dear Mayor,

Yesterday I saw on the news that Ma Yin-Jeou marked the bike lanes in Taipei as being "international standard". Like previous years, when I saw the identical news report about the bike-day, I felt more depressed than optimistic seeing Taipei change in favor of bikers.

So I decided to finally send you a quick note to voice out my opinion.

Maybe (I do disagree though) the few bike lanes along the river side and the ones (that have detoriated) near the city hall are up to those (which?) standards for recreational biking. But if Taipei city goals is to bring biking as a safe alternative for DAILY commuting - as mentioned in the reports - I would not be able to agree.

I have been biking every weekend (recreational) for the past 3 years from Taipei City to Yang-Ming Moutain and those areas. I wouldn't recommend anyone to daily commute on a bike to work. The city is just not safe and convenient for bikers to get quickly from A to B by bike.

After 13 years living in Taipei I just can't believe Taipei city still does not have any roads that connect south to north and west to east with 100% dedicated bike lanes.

The attached video is a video that compares New York with other (European) cities. I hope the Taipei city government can find great opportunities and ideas from this.


Unfortunately my personal feeling is that Taipei is closer to NY conditions than other city in the world and NY is being regarded to be very far behind "international standards" You can see for yourself in the video.

So when talking about "international standards" it may depend to which country or city Taipei is being compared with, since the standards vary a lot between countries. I wonder if Taipei officials ever visited other countries to take a look at how other citys organize their bike lanes and traffic.

I understand Taipei is really crowded but this should not prevent Taipei city from trying to make a change.

I could send you a file with some more suggestions but I can't attach files to this message

Thank you very much an I hope you can put a visible stamp on your term as mayor and Taipei city's infrastructure by making a difference for bikers in the coming years and let daily commuting on a bike become a true and realistic alternative.

Promising, but not in Taipei

A promising improvement, however in 龜山鄉 on Fu-Shing 3rd road and not in Taipei. Seems Guei-Shan is ahead of Taipei!. There is one stretch with two lanes on one side of the road. Very nice, however who do we see to use it also ? yes? yes? ....


You never bike alone

See how Vancouver got road improvement by using critical mass. Commute don't pollute! Only PRESSURE can make a change. A lot of lessons the government learned how biking made a positive impact. After recreational fun it's time to commute!!! See the trailer here

A letter

This could as well be applied to Taipei City. Read here

Taipei halts cyclist penalty plan

Penalties, Penalties, and Penalties. Seriously ? Is the Taipei government bike-ability plan only based on penalties to make biking "safer"? Read how the Taipei city government tried to limit the freedom of biking in Taipei. Lucky for us, bikers, it's has been postponed, but... for how long? Find the news here. A 15km/h maximum limit? You must be seriously kidding. What is the scientific reason behind this? Does biking become dangerous for cars and motorbikes so Taipei City solution is to have the bikers slow down? Would it mean that pedestrians will be prohibited from running, because we may then equally state that it is less controlled than walking? How does it make you feel that your tax money is paid to the folks writing these plans? The commissionar's (Luo Shiaw-shyan , 羅孝賢) profile (which shows he owns a road bike and has a Ph.D from NTU) is here. We may assume he knows what 15km/h feels like. It all shows Taipei City Government perception of biking is as a recreational activity for the family instead considering it a method of commuting and a serious contender to bring the number of scooters, cars and buses down to lower air pollution. Does it need a Ph.D to develop "plans" like these? I am sure Ah-ma from the corner could do it as well, but for her ofcourse biking is too dangerous in our "high speed" city. There is a story here about a biker who got a ticket for speeding in a park over 15mph and the average measured speed was 17-19mph (yes, Miles!, not Kilometers!)

Bicycle Blunders

Some more lessons learned how NOT to implement bike-ability can be found here

The Bikeability Test

How's biking in your area? Download the "Bike-ability Test" Here

Taipei: A Tokyo Copy ?

Here is is link to someone who tried to bike in Tokyo. Anything familiar that you have seen in Taipei? Take a look at the pictures here. Maybe Taipei can be smarter...

Bike Lane Designs

Here are two different design to integrate bike lanes. The first one can be found here which looks like this:

The drawback here is that bikes are sandwiched between moving traffic and parked vehicles.. What happens when a parked cars open the left door? So the other option is this:

Now the bikers are safe and still have an option to get on the sidewalk. but what about buses and taxis. Here is an option.. Create bus and taxi pick up and drop off islands.

And there is more bike lane design information located here

The case of seperated bike lanes

Here is an interesting 8 minutes long video that shows different cities and bike path solutions. How does Taipei compare?

You can find the above movie and much more here

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Biking only for political publicity?

Is the healthy biking topic just only useful for politic promtion and publicity or will Taipei put action with words someday?

As stated there are 250km of bike lane in Taipei. I haven't coutned, however have you seen any long stretches of bike lane on Ren-Ai and Tun-Hua as claimed?http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2007/05/30/2003363166/print

Bike day is coming on May 3rd again. But has much changed in the past few years for bike commuters in Taipei city? Should biking in Taipei only be a happy epxerience on bike day? There are lot of opportunities in Taipei to add REAL bike lanes, for example on Hsin-Yi and other roads which are under construction. A good time to fix the roads which have so many holes and bumps everywhere. Will the city government finally come out with a clear plan and bikers finally be given SAFE bike lane as a present? http://www.cycling-lifestyle.org.tw/

An interesting post

This is an interesting post. As a biker in Taipei I am sure may find several points you can agree with. http://patrick-cowsill.blogspot.com/2008/06/bikes.html

Taipei Bike Map

Here is the Taipei Bike Map. What is missing in the city for daily commuting? http://blog.taiwan-guide.org/wp-content/uploads/taipei-city-bike-map.jpg

Taipei bike Sharing

Here is the link to the bike sharing system in Taipei. Have your say! Would you use it, why and why not? Is it really successful? The statios occupy a lot of space like all the things in the City Hall Area where space is plenty and everything is luxury. But how about the more dense areas in the city? Wouldn't you prefer to bike your own bike from north to south and from east to west and have a safe place to stall it near the MRT for a low fee instead? http://www.youbike.com.tw

A Blog For Bike Commuting In Taipei Area

This is the first posting on this blog. The purpose of the blog is to provide positive input to enhance the Taipei bike experience. As well as I you may wonder why Taiwan is such a major player in the bike arena but the biking experience for daily commuting (like from home to work or from the city to the moutains) but is far from pleasant. For example don't you think Taipei City should have bike lanes instead of the lines of paint beside the zebra crossings? Do you think biking in Taipei is safe? What do you think should be done before you change from the scooter, car, MRT or bus to a bike to commute in the city? We can look at examples of other cities how they implement good bike facilities and solutions. Please send your emails and suggestions to TaipeiBiking@gmail.com, preferable a HTML email with pictures. Please always provide positive input and suggestion for the issue you want to highlight. Hopefully Taipei City will listen!