Somewhere to park a bike

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. 

Bike rack in the Xinyi district of Taipei City, Taiwan

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.

Bikes parked near Shuanglian MRT Station in Taipei, Taiwan

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. 

Folding bike locked to a pole in Taipei, Taiwan

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.  

Double deck bike racks at Gongguan MRT Station, Taipei, Taiwan

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.

6 thoughts on “Somewhere to park a bike

  1. Well done, David! I’m biking from my house in Xizhi to my buxiban in Taipei almost every afternoon now. This isn’t really helping the environment because my wife still drives, but it’s keeping me fit. It would be good to see more cyclists on the road. I hope letters like yours increase awareness, and that increased awareness brings positive change. Keep up the great work!

  2. Well, the first one can be remedied by purchasing a longer lock, the ones with chain inside the plastic. That is what I use, and it can stretch from the front to back, and when you aren’t using it it coils up into a small, well, coil.

  3. I’d suggest having two bikes: one old one for rattling around town, and you can leave anywhere; the other a better one for Sunday rides in the country!

    Kenneth

  4. Maoman, great to hear you are riding to work!

    Corey, I actually carry two locks and still feel insecure.

    Kenneth, I used to have two bikes, but I found that I never rode the cheap one. Once you get used to riding a good bike it is hard to go back to a cheap one that nobody would want to steal!

  5. Good stuff. Bicycling magazine has a few good tips in its July 2008 issue. They don’t seem to be on their website yet, so here they are.

    1. Rig the chain – shift into the big-ring/big-cog gear combo just before you stop. Then, when you park, move the shifters (shifters only, don’t pedal and change gear) into the small-ring/small-cog combo. Result – gears will go crazy when thief tries to pedal away and chain will fall off.

    2. Loosen the rear quick release.

    3. Use minitool to loosen side pinch stem bolts and turn the bar 90deg, and loosen the seat quick release and turn the seat backwards.

    I haven’t tried any of these, so know idea if they work or not.

  6. cfimages, some good ideas there. I don’t think any method is 100% safe, but more effort to properly secure the bike reduces the risk of theft. It amazes me what a bad job most people in Taiwan do locking their bikes. I often wonder if this is contributing to bike theft.

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