For convenience, health and the environment, I recently began to use YouBikes. Since Taipei has almost no infrastructure for safe and convenient bike riding (“Wonderful Copenhagen,” Dec. 7, 2010, page 8), I mostly use the sidewalks, weaving my way through pedestrians, other cyclists and the many parked scooters.
It was all going well, but then it rained. Within a minute, I found that the wheels of the YouBikes are so smooth that they are only functional in dry weather and become as slippery as algal slime in the wet. After a bad tumble resulting in an open wound, I almost fell twice more until I resorted to pushing the YouBike back to its stand.
It is difficult to fathom why the bicycle’s makers would be so careless as to use slippery wheels, which are a health hazard given Taipei’s frequently rainy weather.
This is in line with the government’s continued failure to properly deal with environmental issues (“Fig leaf environmentalism,” June 11, 2012, page 8). Whether it is the government’s failure to protect water resources adequately (“Reservoir land laws changed,” Sept. 13, page 3), to protect citizens from corporations (“Activists protest Mailiao cracker expansion,” Sept. 5, page 3) or flooding due to bad land use policies and strengthening global warming (“Care needed with development,” Sept. 5, page 8), the utter uselessness of the Ma government in all matters environmental is on display again.
Thank God the courts at least protect us from the worst excesses of the government and corporate-sponsored assaults on our environmental well-being (“Court rules in favor of professor in Formosa lawsuit,” Sept. 5, page 3, and “Environmentalists hail ‘Tambei’ ruling,” Sept. 5, page 1).
Whether it is small issues like YouBike wheels or the ludicrous anti-idling law, or big issues like traffic policies, pollution control or land development, one can only conclude that there is a band of bureaucratic dilettantes with neither a grasp on reality nor any scientific background. These paper pushers are probably more concerned with their careers and pensions than with protecting and improving the lives of ordinary citizens.
YouBikes and the Ma government are hazardous to your health.