Driven away from Taiwan
I will soon be leaving Taiwan after being here for the past four years, and before I go I want to take the opportunity to express one of the main reasons that I can’t stand to stay here any longer. Every day I either walk or ride my bike almost everywhere I go, and every day I am faced with the prospect of dying by being hit by a car.
I am amazed that drivers here drive as dangerously as they do, without the slightest regard for pedestrians and bikers, and I am absolutely appalled that they are allowed to drive this way by the police.
I can’t believe that a portion of my tax money goes to a police force that continues to let drivers do virtually anything they want on the street, with impunity. I am stunned that in a society in which people are generally very friendly and polite, there are so many people who, behind the wheel of a 1,500kg vehicle, immediately throw all concern for their fellow citizens out the window and tear through red lights, intersections and stop signs, race around corners, increase their speed even more in rainy conditions and generally create an environment where anyone not in a car has to maintain a razor-sharp focus at all times simply to make it home without injury.
I spend, on average, 10 to 30 minutes of every single day either enraged or terrified after almost being hit or violated in some other way by a car.
Drivers feel that they have the right of way in every situation, even when it is clearly marked otherwise and even in instances where they know full well that they are endangering the lives of others.
The worst offenders of all are the taxi and truck drivers who feel they need to get to places quickly to increase their profits, thereby valuing money over human lives. I suppose that those of you who have grown up in such a system may accept it as the “status quo,” but for those who come to visit from other countries it is shocking and disturbing.
If anyone asked me if they should visit Taiwan the first thing I would do would be to warn them of the danger of reckless drivers and advise that they go hide up in the beautiful mountains, the only place in Taiwan that you can feel safe.
ICRT failing to fill vital need
ICRT gained popularity as an all-English information source in the 1990s. When ICRT switched to music at night, their popularity eroded. People now have smartphones which can play dozens of English-language radio stations with better music and fewer commercials.
What is needed is an English-speaking radio station in Taiwan that has news and information available for Taiwanese and Westerners at night while traveling home from work. Taiwanese need a free source of English in order to compete in the world.
If ICRT won’t fulfil this crucial need, the Taipei Times should use its resources to set up an all-English news app for smartphones. English is important to Taiwan’s future, music isn’t.