A letter I wrote in response to the article NGOs say Taiwan's cities not convenient for cycling was published in the Taipei Times today. The letter discusses bicycle parking among other issues.
One major problem cyclists face is the lack of suitable locations to park their bikes when they arrive at their destination. Where bike parking does exist it is often poorly designed and doesn’t properly protect bikes from damage or theft. The double-decker bike racks like those near the Gongguan MRT station are the only well-designed racks I have seen in Taiwan. Yet they have only been installed at a few MRT stations and nowhere else in the city.
(Update: A Chinese translation of the letter is available at the Bike Smiling blog: Getting bike-friendlier 成為單車友善城市)
I wrote about obstacles to cycling in Taiwan way back in September 2006. One of the key points I mentioned then was the problem of parking and storage. Following are a few photos to illustrate the current state of bicycle parking facilities in Taipei.
This is the most common type of bike rack seen around Taipei. They only allow the cyclist to securely lock the front wheel of the bike to the rack. A thief could easily remove the front wheel and walk away with the rest of the bike. The bike is also vulnerable to having its front wheel bent while it is locked in this kind of rack.
The bikes pictured here are parked near Shuanglian MRT Station. They are not secured to anything. They only thing protecting them from theft is a flimsy lock and that the bikes themselves are not very valuable. In most areas of Taipei this is the only option for bicycle parking.
The picture above shows a bike locked onto a pole. It shows what a bad job many people do of locking their bikes. Poles can be good things to lock a bike to, but actually there are not many suitable poles around Taipei.
The double-decker bike racks at Gongguan MRT station are pictured above. They have been installed at Gongguan, Yuanshan, Jiantan, Beitou and Fuzhong MRT stations. They make efficient use of space and keep bikes reasonably secure. Taipei really needs more facilities like this.
A letter I received from the Taipei City Parking Management Office (臺北市停車管理處) in April 2008 said the goal is to install 16,000 bicycle racks in the first stage and 13,603 had been installed by the end of 2007. This accounts for 15-20% of demand.
There really needs to be more bicycle parking facilities installed at many locations around Taipei. The basic rack style needs to be improved with designs that allow cyclists to lock both the frame and wheel of the bike. I prefer the inverted U style racks, but different styles could be trialled. Bike lockers and secure parking areas should also be installed for people with valuable bikes.
Cyclists need space to park their bikes not just to ride them. With a little vision and planning Taipei can become a much more bicycle friendly city.