Paris and Taipei cycling experience

Paris, Taipei: Bicycles Forever (巴黎.台北 單車萬歲) is a documentary directed by Jean-Robert Thomann (尚若白). It looks at the experience of bicycle commuters in Paris and Taipei. I went to the premiere screening at Eslite Dunnan Bookstore today and it will screen on PTS (公視) tomorrow.

The documentary explores the attitudes of those who have chosen to use a bicycle as their primary form of transport. It looks at both the positives and negatives of this lifestyle choice. The people featured are quite a diverse group. I thought the most interesting one was a woman who uses a bicycle to send her two children to school. If only more people in Taipei would follow her example.

The documentary also considers the development of bicycle paths and bike sharing systems. Taipei’s U-bike system obviously lags a long way behind Paris’s Velib system. It shows that while there have been some improvements in Taipei, the city still has a long way to go before it provides a friendly environment for bicycle commuters.

Continue reading

Bike Smiling May 2008

The May 2008 edition of Bike Smiling (微笑單車上路) was held on Sunday 25 May. My bilingual report can be found on the Bike Smiling blog. (The Chinese has benefited from some good editing!). Thanks to Victor and Mike of Cycle Taiwan for joining the ride. 

I'd also like to feature this photo of Barking's wonderful sign. The three characters are 免呷油. Pronounced in Mandarin it means, "don't fill up with oil". Pronounced in Hoklo Taiwanese it means "don't eat oil!"

It is very topical with the recent rise in petrol prices. I planned to get a before and after photo of the petrol prices. However, the Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) announced the price increase at short notice, five days earlier than planned. This lead to a frenzy of petrol buying in the hours before it increased. Tim Maddog has written about the media coverage of the price rise. The realities of peak oil and climate change mean that the only way is up. The era of cheap oil is over so get on your bike! 

The next Bike Smiling is on Sunday 29 June at 3:00pm. Meet at the Ren'ai Road gate of Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.

Cycling events in March

2008 Taipei Cycle and Tour de Taiwan posters

March will be an exciting month for anyone interested in bikes and cycling in Taiwan. The Tour de Taiwan runs from 9-16 March. Taipei Cycle 2008 takes place at the TWTC Nangang Exhibition Hall from 13-16 March.  

Racing action in the 2007 Tour de Taiwan in Taipei

The 2008 Tour de Taiwan starts in Kaohsiung on 9 March. The race will cover 832 kilometres in eight stages. The final stage on 16 March will be a criterium around Taipei City Hall. The tour is part of the UCI Asia Tour and 22 teams from 15 countries will compete in the race. Stage by stage the race will go as follows:

  • Stage 1: 9 March (Sun) Kaohsiung City
  • Stage 2: 10 March (Mon) Pingdong County
  • Stage 3: 11 March (Tue) Zhanghua County
  • Stage 4: 12 March (Wed) Taizhong City
  • Stage 5: 13 March (Thu) Xinzhu City
  • Stage 6: 14 March (Fri) Taipei County
  • Stage 7: 15 March (Sat) Taipei City (Nangang)
  • Stage 8: 16 March (Sun) Taipei City (Taipei City Hall)

Descriptions of the stages (in Chinese) are available on the Tour de Taiwan website. The stages in Kaohsiung, Pingdong, Taizhong, Xinzhu, Nangang and Taipei will all be held on street circuits allowing spectators to get close to the action. Stage 6 in Taipei County will start and finish at the Taipei County Government building in Banqiao. Riders will race over an out and back circuit to Cape Bitou via Danshui. 

bike on display at Taipei Cycle 2007

Taipei Cycle 2008 will be held at the TWTC Nangang Exhibition Centre from 13-16 March. The event marks the opening of the new exhibition centre which has 1.7 times more floor space than the Taipei World Trade Centre. Unfortunately the MRT lines that will connect to the Nangang Exhibition Centre are not yet complete. The best way to get there will be to travel on the MRT to Kunyang Station and take a bus or taxi from there. The bike show is also being held in conjuction with the Taiwan International Sporting Goods Show (TaiSPO). TaiSPO will be held at the TWTC in the Xinyi District of Taipei.  

Bike Smiling - Taipei, image created with Ript

And finally, if you prefer riding bikes rather than just looking at them, don't forget Bike Smiling (微笑單車上路).  It's on Sunday 30 March at 3:00pm in Taipei. Meet at the main gate of NTU (on the corner of Roosevelt and Xinsheng Roads). 

Bike Smiling in Taipei

Bicycle shaped lights on Ren’ai Road in Taipei for the Lantern Festival

Last month while participating in the Green Party bike ride I learned of Bike Smiling (微笑單車上路), Taiwan's version of Critical Mass. In Taipei it is held on the last Sunday of every month and today I joined for the first time. I turned up about twenty minutes before the scheduled starting time and there was not another cyclist to be seen. It was somewhat serendipitous to see the bicycle shaped lights decorating Ren'ai Road for the Lantern Festival though. 

Smiles at Bike Smiling in Taipei, 24 February 2008

Around three o'clock a couple more cyclists arrived and by the time we hit the road there were about ten cyclists in all. The small group made it easy for everyone to ride together.

Advertisement opposing the Su-Hua Freeway on Taipei Arena

The ride stopped outside the Taipei Arena to watch an advertisement opposing the Su-Hua Freeway (蘇花高). If you look closely at the photo above you can make out the words "No Freeway for Freedom".  

Critical Mass style bike lift at Bike Smiling in Taipei, 24 Feb 2008

At the end of the ride people checked out everyone's bikes. The folding bikes seemed to attract plenty of attention. Two of them are being used here to do a Critical Mass style bike lift. If you are in Kaohsiung Bike Smiling will be at 7:00pm on Friday 29 February. The next one in Taipei is on Sunday 30 March starting from the main gate of NTU at 3:00pm.

*Bike Smiling photos at flickr and report on the Bike Smiling blog: 20080224台北微笑單車上路.