The first bicycle lane in downtown Taipei — on Dunhua N and S Road — is scheduled to be completed by the end of this month and is meant to provide a safer environment for the growing number of cyclists.
The lane, which cost more than NT$100 million (US$3 million) to build, is a major municipal project launched under Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) administration and attempts to promote cycling as a mode of green transportation in the city.
Construction work began in October on Dunhua N Road between Zhongxiao E Road and Minquan E Road, along which the city government marked off the slow lane with green paint and set up kerb stones.
The section was launched last month and the final section of the lane on Dunhua S Road is scheduled to be completed by the end of this month.
The 2m-wide lane, which is marked off with green, red and gray paint, however, has not been well received, with motorists and scooter riders complaining of less room to maneuver, while cyclists said that the route is poorly designed and often blocked by parked cars, scooters, buses and taxis.
“The lane has made traffic congestion worse because we have to stop in the central lane when stopping for passengers,” 32-year-old taxi driver Cheng Ching-hsian (陳錦獻) said.
Cyclist Mei Lin (林淑美), on the other hand, said cycling along the lane was unsafe because the city government only separated the lane with paint and a few kerb stones. Some car drivers or scooter riders still use the lane and get in the way of cyclists.
“Also, I don’t understand what those different colors on the lane mean. I think the colors and kerb stones make the road look ugly,” she said.
Hsieh Ming-hung (謝銘鴻), chief engineer at the traffic engineering office, said the kerb stones were placed to help separate the bike lane and prevent cyclists from being hit by cars.
While the majority of the lane is painted green, a total of 18 bus stops, seven taxi stops and two school student pickup/drop off areas on the lane are painted red, while the gray paint is to remind cyclists about the narrowing of the lane because of parking space reserved for taxis, buses and trucks, he said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Hung Chien-yi (洪健益) criticized the bicycle lane project for failing to address the needs of cyclists with its poor design, urging the city government not to open the lane for cyclists before improving the design.
“The Dunhua bicycle lane is a failed project because no one, not drivers, scooter riders or even cyclists benefit from it. It’s turned into a road block on Dunhua N and S Road,” he said.
The commissioner of the transportation department, Luo Shiaw-shyan (羅孝賢), said the department would promote the lane and encourage drivers to respect cyclists.
The bicycle lane project will also be expanded to Xinyi Road and Nanjing E Road after the MRT’s Xinyi and Songshan lines are completed, he said.
The city government’s determination to promote bicycles still won some support, however.
Cyclist Yiwen Tsai (蔡依雯), who lived in the US for several years, said riding on Dunhua N and S Road could be a wonderful experience.
More cyclists would be willing to use the lane if the city government built more bicycle lanes and clamped down on those who blocked the lanes, she said.
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