Skip to main content

YouBike - Good or Bad for Taipei?

In 2008 Taipei City’s Department of Transportation launched the Taipei Bike Sharing Pilot Program, which evolved into the highly successful YouBike, a bicycle rental project with over 30 million users as of October of this year.

I welcome the use of bikes as a cheaper and eco-friendly alternative to scooters and cars. However, I think that the YouBike so far has had a negative impact on Taipei. There are three major problems that need to be addressed:

1) the government has failed to make the population aware of the risks of riding their bikes on sidewalks;

2) as the city lacks an extensive network of bicycle paths, pedestrians now have to share the same, often narrow spaces with a growing number of bikes;

3) YouBike riders are not required by law to purchase an insurance, like scooter and car drivers do.

As you can see from the video below, some cyclists (in my experience, the great majority of them) have absolutely no sense of responsibility when riding their bikes on sidewalks. Unfortunately, as YouBike grew more popular the situation has worsened considerably. 

Last month I was waiting at a traffic light and, as usual, several cyclists were waiting behind me. As the light turned green, both pedestrians and cyclists moved forward, with bikes dashing from all sides trying to overtake the slower pedestrians. A bike then hit my foot; had I worn flip-flops, I may have got hurt. Luckily, the tire only left a scratch on my shoe, which is still annoying enough, since the shoes were expensive. The girl who was riding the bike smiled, said sorry, and rode off. A few days later, a bike coming from a side alley almost hit me while I was crossing the street (I couldn't possibly have seen it coming from behind a building). 

I have seen this kind of behaviour many times, and I also witnessed minor accidents. I think it should be common sense that bikes and pedestrians cannot share the same space. Especially children and elder people are at risk. Unfortunately, very few people in Taipei seem aware of this, and they ride their bikes carelessly. 

It turns out that walking in Taipei has become increasingly unpleasant and dangerous. Given that traffic regulations are often ignored and very selectively enforced, I am not surprised. Even policemen don't seem to care. Just a couple of days ago I was trying to cross Gongyuan Road at a zebra crossing. Cars and scooters simply wouldn't stop, although a policeman was there. And he simply ignored us pedestrians. 




Cars and scooters dominate Taipei. Bicycle paths do exist, but only in a few areas. Launching YouBike without first building an extensive network of bicycle paths was quite irresponsible. Pedestrians and bikes cannot possibly share the sidewalks, it is simply too messy and dangerous. According to the Taipei Times, "the number of bicycles as a proportion of the city’s traffic has increased by 25 percent since 2011, creating safety concerns as legal and policy structures try to catch up".

However, the focus of the government doesn't seem to lie on the necessary infrastructures and the enforcement of traffic regulations, but just on the need to provide insurance for the riders. The recent case of a 21-year-old girl who fell from a YouBike while riding at a riverside park in New Taipei City and died a few days later of brain hemorrhage sparked an overdue debate over whether the government should require cyclists to purchase insurance. 


With or without insurance, a city such as Taipei, where traffic is already chaotic and dangerous, needs proper infrastructure and more public awareness, if it wants its ambitious bike sharing project to improve rather than harm the quality of life in the city.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Taipei Walking Tours - A Guide To Taipei In 6 Days

Taiwan is one of the most underrated tourist destinations in Asia. With about 10.74 million tourists in 2017, it lags behind Asian neighbours like Thailand (35 million), Hong Kong (58 million), Japan (28.7 million), or Indonesia (14 million).
Nevertheless, Taiwan is a great place to visit due to its amazing food, fascinating history, traditional Chinese culture, friendly atmosphere, safety, and natural attractions. Moreover, Taiwan has a very convenient visa policy. Citizens of many countries, including the United States and most European Union members, can travel to Taiwan without a visa and stay there for up to 90 days. You can literally buy a plane ticket and go to Taiwan without doing any paperwork.    
If you travel to Taiwan, your first destination will probably be the capital and largest city: Taipei.




Taipei is the political and economic centre of the island, with lots of attractions ranging from modern skyscrapers and shopping centres to night markets, colonial Japanese architect…

Rumours About Chinese Actress Fan Bingbing's Arrest Spread Online

Rumours about the arrest of Chinese model and actress Fan Bingbing on charges of tax evasion have spread on Chinese media.
As Apple Daily reports, celebrity Fan Bingbing and her younger brother Fan Chengcheng have allegedly been detained for taking part in a tax evasion scheme alongside her manager, Mu Xiaoguang.
Mu has also allegedly been charged with destroying incriminating evidence.

On May 28 TV anchor Cui Yongyuan posted on Weibo a contract that showed Fan Bingbing being paid $1.56 million (RMB10 million) for four days’ work on director Feng Xiaogang's film “Cell Phone 2.” 

Later Cui released another contract worth $7.8 million (RMB50 million) for the same work. He alleged that Fan had declared to tax authorities only the first contract, thus avoiding to pay taxes on the second, larger amount. 

Double-contracts for the purpose of tax evasion are known in China as "yin-yang contracts". 

Although the Chinese government censored Cui's posts, in early June China's t…

Majority Of Germans Are Afraid Of Donald Trump - Survey

More than two-thirds of Germans think that Donald Trump's foreign policy is making the world more dangerous, according to a recent survey.

The survey shows that 69 percent of respondents worry that Trump's policy is making the world more dangerous, topping this year's list. 

63 percent of respondents said they are worried about asylum seekers, 63% fear "tensions due to the arrival of foreigners", 61 percent worry about politicians' inability to tackle problems. 59 percent are worried about terrorism - 12 percent less than a year ago.

58 percent are worried about the cost of the EU debt crisis to German taxpayers, while 57 percent fear political extremism.

"The Fears of the Germans" (Die Ängste der Deutschen) is a survey conducted every year by R+V-Infocenter since 1992. 2,400 people above 14 years are asked about their biggest worries. This year the survey was conducted between June 8 to July 18.