The Tourism Bureau on Thursday announced the first Taiwan Cycling Festival, which will take place in October and is expected to attract about 10,000 visitors during the week-long event.
“We hope to make this an annual festival, with this year serving as a warm-up,” Tourism Bureau Director-General Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) said.
Lai said the festival would be held from Oct. 16 through Oct. 24 and focus on four cycling races: the Taiwan Cup, the Elites Road Race, the Self-Challenge Race and the Taitung Triathlon Race.
Except for the Taitung Triathlon Race, which has been held annually for about a decade, the other three are new races.
This year, the annual triathlon will be held from Oct. 16 through Oct. 17.
Lai said the Taiwan Cup and the Elite Road Race were competitive races that would be held on Oct. 24. The Taiwan Cup is a 200km road race in Hualien County, for which the bureau will invite cyclists who have competed in the Olympics, the Tour de France or other international cycling races, as well as those who belong to professional cycling teams.
She said the Elite Road Race would be held immediately after the Taiwan Cup and would be open to cyclists nationwide.
Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners in all the races.
The Self-Challenge Race, scheduled for Oct. 23 through Oct. 24, will give certifications to individuals passing different types of races, she said. Lai said the races would combine cycling with tourism and are very different from professional cycling races.
Lai said the bureau estimated the total cost for the events would be about NT$10 million (US$312,500).
The bureau hopes the events would attract about 10,000 visitors, including athletes and their families, Lai said.
Hotels and hostels in Hualien and Taitung have adequate capacity to accommodate them all, she said.
In related news, the Directorate-General of Highways (DGH) said it was improving road conditions on some of the nation’s provincial highways to make them more cyclist-friendly.
In a survey of provincial highways, the DGH identified 10 sections of road that are not cyclist-friendly. Most are in the downtown areas with heavy traffic.
Others have a high volume of large-size vehicles.
Aside from changing road signs, the DGH will try to improve the “unfriendly” sections by charting out alternative routes for cyclists so they can avoid traffic during rush hour.
They will also set the speed limit for large-size vehicles at 40kph to ensure the safety of cyclists.