After years of planning and inspections, the Thousand-Mile Trail Club (TMTC) yesterday inaugurated two trails reserved for hiking and cycling that connect cultural and historic sites.
The group said it hopes the trails would not only provide new leisure opportunities but also help to change lifestyles.
Since its foundation in 2006, the group’s objective has been to promote a hiking-cycling culture to reduce the use of motorized vehicles, both to cut carbon emissions and help people appreciate the beauty of the nation.
“Originally, we wanted to create a network of trails so that people could travel around the country on foot or by bike,” said Huang Wu-hsiung (黃武雄), one of the founders of the campaign. “Four years later, the project is more than just about hiking or cycling.”
Huang said the trails not only pass through scenic areas, but also connect sites with stories behind them — cultural and historic sites, places where key social movements took place, organic farms and little-known museums.
With the trails, the group also wants to promote a car-free culture and more concern for pedestrians.
“The walking trails are meaningless if there are cars and motorcycles going around all the time, or buses carrying groups of tourists to visit these places,” he said. “We’ve talked to several local government heads, and did get some positive responses.”
TMTC chairwoman Chou Sheng-hsin (周聖心) said that currently there is one trail along the coast and a trail in the mountains in eastern and western parts of the country, totaling 3,000km in length.
The trails, Chou said, are mostly away from main roads or provincial highways.
“The trails follow small country roads, abandoned railroads or creeks,” she said.
“The 3,000km is only a beginning, not the end,” she said. “Our volunteers have checked all the trails, but this is only the initial version.”
She said the group has negotiated with the Directorate-General of Highway about banning traffic on Siluo Bridge (西螺大橋) connecting Sijhou Township (溪州) in Changhua County and Siluo Township (西螺) in Yunlin County.
“After several negotiations, the highway agency said that as long as Sijhou and Siluo are fine with it, they would be willing to close the bridge to traffic on weekends,” Chou said, adding that Yilan County Commissioner Liu Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) also agreed to close some roads to traffic.
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