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Thu, Aug 23, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Taipei City pedals electric bicycles

THE ENVIRONMENT In an effort to help rid the city of its polluted air, Taipei is offering subsidies of NT$3,000 toward the purchase of electric bikes

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Two students try out electric bicycles during an event sponsored by Taipei City at the Chienkuo Senior High School. The city government wants to promote the environmentally friendly bikes as an alternative to scooters.


In a bid to improve the city's air pollution, the Taipei City Govern-ment yesterday launched a campaign to encourage motor scooter riders to switch to electric bicycles.

Motorists interested in purchasing an electric bicycle are eligible for an NT$3,000 subsidy. The program is effective until December.

"Our goal is to see 3 percent of the city's frequent commuters riding bicycles or electric bicycles by the end of the year," said Chiu Kuo-su (邱國書), air division chief of the city's Bureau of Environmental Protection.

Statistics released yesterday by the city's budget, accounting and statistics department showed that roughly 32 percent of Taipei's commuters ride motor scooters to work or school.

About 25 percent opt for automobiles, nearly 9 percent use the MRT and less than 1 percent ride a bicycle.

The subsidy campaign is funded by the bureau and organized by the Environment and Development Foundation.

The city has invited motorists to take a trial ride on one of the 20 electric bicycles and fill out a questionnaire regarding the ride.

According to Chiu, electric bicycles are cheaper and lighter than motor scooters.

"A brand-new, 50-cc motor scooter costs between NT$30,000 and NT$40,000. An electric bicycle costs about half that price," he said. "While a 50-cc motor scooter weighs about 60kg, an electric bicycle weighs about 20kg."

In addition, Chiu said the battery of an electric bicycle -- which weights about 6kg -- is portable and lasts roughly 40km. What's more, the electric vehicle is pollution-free.

"The rate of poor air quality in Taipei has hit 3.4 percent this year," Chiu said. "In other words, the city's air quality is rated as `poor' 3.4 days for every 100 days."

Although an electric bicycle seems to offer many advantages, Tseng Chi-lung (曾麒龍), a 17-year-old high school student, said that few people his age would consider purchasing one.

"What I don't like about it most is the lack of speed," Tseng said.

An electric bicycle can run at speeds approaching 40kph.

Another 17-year-old, Lin Yeh-chun (林業鈞), also held the same opinion. "It sucks to be the last one to get to the places where everyone wants to go."

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