Fri, Feb 04, 2005 - Page 14 News List

Happy cyclists circle Taipei

By Susan Kendzulak  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

View from the Xindian River bike path.

PHOTO: SUSAN KENDZULAK, TAIPEI TIMES

Looking to shed a few kilograms after the holiday season? Or are you in need of a breath of fresh air and natural scenery without having to travel far from home? Or are you just looking for an alternative green route to work? Well, you're in luck. The Taipei City Government has just completed the expansion phase of construction that links the existing 55km of bicycle paths around the Taipei City riverbanks, bringing them to a span of 100km. The plan is to have all the paths connected by next year.

These scenic car-free paths are a much-needed green oasis in the middle of a heavily traffic-congested city and are principally constructed along the four main riverbanks of the Danshui, Xindian, Keelung and Jingmei rivers.

In addition to these tree-lined paths, there are grassy parks, tennis areas, baseball fields and basketball courts for sports enthusiasts and peaceful areas to contemplate the expanse of sky. There are bird sanctuaries and ecological preserves in some other parts of the long pathways, and temples and old architectural-style housing can be seen along the way. The paths are well-lit at night making it a safe place for young and old alike.

Each area has its own unique sights and charms. In the south of Taipei, the Jingmei River path starts under the Yungfu Bridge to the Wanfang Pumping Station on the north bank. On the south bank, the path goes from the Mucha Zoo to Hengquang Bridge, while on the north-shore route, you can get to Shenkeng, which is famous for its green bean tofu snacks. Off the river path there are several steep routes in the Mucha area.

The long stretch of the Xindian and Danshui rivers is a delight as it is serene and free from exhaust fumes. Start at the old Jingmei Bridge and you will pass the National Taiwan University area, the residential and artist village of Treasure Hill. You will then ride past the Longshan Temple area, up to the Dadaocheng Wharf where you can stop for a snack and watch the fishing boats. The Wharf can also be accessed at the water gate of Minsheng West Road and is near Dihua Street. The path then ends at Shezi Island near Yanping Road, Sec 9, where the Danshui and Keelung Rivers meet.

The Guandu and Chuwei sections contain the Guandu Bird Reserve and the Mangrove Forest Ecological Area, ideal spots for bird-watching as it is common to see gray-faced

buzzards, egrets and storks. It's also good place to gaze across the river at Mount Guanyin.

On the northeast side of Taipei, the Keelung River path with its wide areas of grassy parks can be accessed on the north bank from the Neihu Incinerator to Dazhih Bridge or on the south side at the Nangang Vocational School to Dazhih Riverside Park.

And for those without bicycles, there are several rental places located at the various riverside parks of Tachih, Guanshan, Huazhong, Meiti and Mucha. To rent a bike for the low hourly fee of NT$20 to NT$50 (depending on the model), you will need to either leave a valid ID or a NT$2000 deposit. For further info contact: Cycling Lifestyle Foundation (02) 2719 2025. Enjoy the ride!

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