A Canadian newspaper praised Taiwan as a cyclist’s wonderland and recommended the country as a perfect model for Canadian officials attempting to encourage more city dwellers to get on their bikes.
“With a huge choice of bike paths, mountain trails, bike parks and other tourism sites along the routes,” Taiwan has been transformed into a “cyclist’s paradise,” the Ottawa Citizen daily said in an article on Saturday last week.
“The Taiwanese have suddenly taken to riding bicycles by the millions, and today the island is criss-crossed by hundreds of smooth paved bike paths,” the article written by Mike McCarthy said.
McCarthy wrote that twin setbacks — SARS a decade ago and the more recent global economic recession — caused a drop in international tourism and led many locals to switch to more affordable cycling vacations at home.
A Taiwanese film on cycling around the island — Island Etude (練習曲) — also helped fan the flames of this health revolution, the article said.
Keen to develop a new industry, the government began funding bike trails and bike parks. Bike hotels and bed and breakfasts have sprung up all over the country to lure city dwellers to the countryside for cycling adventures.
“Today, the majority of Taiwanese, young and old, are frequent or occasional cyclists, and the demand for more bike paths continues to grow,” McCarthy wrote, adding that “the bike trails and mountains have also attracted serious cyclists from Europe and North America.”
McCarthy referred to the Guanshan Bike Trail in Taitung County as the “perfect bike trail,” with its scenery of lush green rice paddies and rolling hills dotted with water buffalo and fragrant flowers, along a smooth paved path over tiny bridges and past shops selling tea, ice cream and lunchboxes.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said at the opening of the Taipei Cycle Show on Wednesday that the government would extend the nation’s bike path network to 2,000km, of which 900km would be mountain biking trails and 1,200km would span along coastlines.
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