Environmentalists yesterday protested in front of the former Children’s Transportation Museum in Taipei City’s Zhongzheng District (中正), demanding that the city cancel a plan to replace old trees near the property with a 13m-high bicycle ramp and simulated rice paddy steps.
Green Party Taiwan Secretary-General Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said the park, proposed by the Taipei Hakka Affairs Commission, would feature a bicycle trail that goes over a nearby river dike so that people can ride their bikes from the park to the riverside.
Near it, an artificial rice paddy and tea plantation is to be constructed, Taiwan Natural Trail Society secretary-general Chang Yu-chuan (張尤娟) said.
“We asked them to build a small trail so that people who want to cycle near the river can do so, but they want to build a large one so that they can put a coffee stall, tables and seats on it,” Pan said.
The NT$300 million (US$10 million) ramp will go directly over the Huanhe Expressway, Pan said.
“With so much traffic below and the air so bad, who would want to drink coffee there? This is stupid,” Pan said.
The cost of the ramp is way and above the planned budget and building such a wide ramp would require the removal of old trees, the environmentalists said.
Chang said that while Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) claims he wants to protect the environment, “now 128 large trees will be removed, among them elm trees that take about 50 years to grow as thick as a girl’s waist. They are to be replaced with plants such as Tung trees [not commonly seen in Hakka villages, especially in the Miaoli area] that do not belong in the local ecosystem.”
“Why can’t they build a sky-walk that goes over the existing natural environment?” Chang said.
In response, commission section chief Chang Chien-yu (張建昱) said most of the trees that were being removed were “common banyan trees.”
“There are too many banyan trees in the park, whose roots protrude through the ground and make it difficult for people to walk,” Chang Chien-yu said. “We plan to move 62 of them, but rather than what the environmentalists say, the trees will be categorized as large and small, original species and others, and the ones we plan to move are common banyan trees.”
Chang Chien-yu said the rice paddy and tea tree plantation were designed so that children who live in the city can learn how rice and tea is grown.
Regarding the size of the ramp, when officials met the eight borough chiefs in the area, they said a ramp should be constructed to connect the 4 hectare park with the 108 hectare riverside park nearby.
Whether the ramp needs to be large or small can be debated, Chang Chien-yu said, but while some say a small one would do, others think a large ramp would provide more seamless connection of the two parks.