Mon, Apr 09, 2007 - Page 2 News List

New motorbike policy met with mixed reactions

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Motorcyclists expressed varied reactions to the Ministry of Transportation and Communica-tions' (MOTC) announcement last week that motorcycles with 550cc engines and larger will be allowed to operate on some expressways by the end of this year.

Wang Shih-jia (王世佳), who runs a motorcycle rental store in Banciao (板橋) and is an avid motorcyclist, said he welcomed the policy.

"I think that opening the regular roads downtown and in suburbs and the expressways is good enough," Wang said, adding that he did not necessarily think motorcyclists should be allowed to operate on freeways.

Other motorcyclists were uninterested in the idea of taking their bikes on the expressways.

"Personally, I have no strong desire to ride on expressways," said a motorcyclist and blogger named "Fred," who wrote on his Web log that he already owns one large motorcycle and plans to purchase another with an even larger cylinder capacity.

"The roads have so many potholes, which pose a threat to many motorcyclists," he said. "A lot of bad car drivers would intentionally give motorcyclists a hard time. Some motorcyclists may take advantage of the opportunity to speed on expressways, as well."

The ministry allowed owners of 250cc motorcycles and above to obtain legal licenses and operate on regular roads in July 2002, six months after Taiwan became a member of the WTO.

As stipulated in the WTO entry agreement, the government can only restrict large-engined motorcycles from operating on its freeways.

Over the years, the government has been under the pressure to allow large-sized motorcycles to operate on expressways as well.

The announcement came after the Directorate General of Highways tested the viability of the proposal on the expressway connecting Houlong (後龍) and Wenshui (汶水), Provincial Highway No. 68; and between Nanliao (南寮) and Chutung (竹東) on Provincial Highway No. 72.

Regarding the policy, the ministry said that while owners of large-engined motorcycles would be permitted to operate on expressways, local authorities are authorized to forbid the entry of large-engined motorcycles on expressways within their administrative areas if they believe the motorcycles could compromise traffic safety.

In addition to provincial highways Nos. 68 and 72, the Institute of Transportation has recommended that the measure be applied to other expressways, including Sibin Expressway or Provincial Highway No. 61; Provincial Highway 78 connecting Taisi (台西) and Gukeng (古坑); and Provincial Highway 84 between Beimen (北門) and Yujing (玉井).

On the other hand, large-engined motorcycles will not be allowed on Provincial Highway 64 between Bali (八里) and Sindian (新店); Provincial Highway 74 from Taichung to Changhua; Provincial Highway 86 between Rende (仁德) and Guanmiao (關廟); or Provincial Highway 88 between Fongshan (鳳山) and Jhutian (竹田).

The ministry said these expressways were prone to heavy traffic, making them inappropriate for the motorcycles.

As of yesterday, the Taipei City Government had not decided whether it would let large-engined motorcycles operate on the city's expressways, which include Huanhe (環河) and Chienkuo (建國) expressways.

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