Bike Share and Biking in Taipei (Part II)

Following up on my previous post in cycling in Taipei, here are some further impressions and thoughts on the YouBike system there and the cycling infrastructure in general.

As I mentioned before, the YouBike system works well. My initial suggestion to make the stations more visible is of course only necessary if you don’t have a mobile phone, which most – if not all – users will have. It is quite naturally also put into an existing infrastructure and in some places is well thought out and fits in quite nicely with the existing roadway design.

There is also the issue that drivers in Taipei tend to be very courteous to cyclists and pedestrians alike. This makes for a much more pleasant experience than in many other places around the world. Cyclists are also welcome on the MRT, as seen here:

But there are issues that make the cycling experience less comfortable than it could be. Clearly, cycling came as somewhat of an afterthought in Taipei and it is being squeezed into the existing design. So what you get are nice pathways that travel underneath the MRT lines, such as this one:

But then that path, when hitting a canal or another roadway, either suddenly ends or you are shot out into regular traffic. And when that happens, you are sometimes left to head up stairs like this:

Then there are the dreaded sharrows whose arrows signify the position where cyclists are supposed to be. For the most part it is a confusing element in the roadspace. The particular placement shows what the problem with sharrows are. Instead of placing you in a part of the lane that is safe, this one requires you to maneuver in and out of traffic.

But overall, cycling in Taipei is a pleasure. Part of that comes through the sheer number of people who are on bikes. Both images are from National Taiwan University, the first one showing a problem in terms of parking in the designated bicycle lane (which is, in the grand scheme of things, a good problem to have).

During my time in Taipei I bicycled all over the city, day and night, for pleasure and for business. The bike share system is reliable, efficient and easy to use. The infrastructure, if the government bureaucracy wants this to be the case, can be adapted and improved. I look forward to my next visit and my first choice for moving about will certainly be either my own bike or YouBike.

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