A biking craze that was sparked five years ago is being revived because of the recent rise in electricity and fuel prices, with bicycle commuters saying that you can save money and lose weight by biking to work.
With electricity prices set to rise on May 15, weekend and holiday bikers are using the Internet to urge commuters to bike to work.
Some netizens scoffed at the idea, saying that the government was unfriendly to bikers and that saving NT$60 per day on fuel while spending more on lunch was not a good tradeoff. However, netizens who have already begun to commute to work by bike said they enjoyed the health benefits.
One anonymous staff member at an e-commerce firm said his company encouraged its employees to bike to work, adding that it had set up shower stalls equipped with free toiletries and hair dryers.
He said 10 of his coworkers had begun to bike to work.
Huo Chun-jung (霍春融), another bike commuter who has commuted from New Taipei City’s (新北市) Sindian (新店) to Neihu (內湖) in Taipei City for the past five years, said he has not only saved NT$10,000 in gas money, he had also lost 40kg.
When the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ announced earlier this month that it would raise gas prices, a commuter surnamed Ting (丁) said he promised himself that he would bike to work everyday from Taipei’s Nankang District (南港) to the City Hall MRT station.
“I saved more than NT$210 in bus fares in a week,” Ting said.
“Most important is that while biking and busing both take 30 minutes, I’m exercising for 30 minutes instead of sitting on a bus,” Ting said.
A cyclist known by his Internet moniker “bossteam” said the one-way distance of his bike commute from the southern end of Taipei City’s Songhsan District (松山) to Tucheng District (土城) was about 16.5km, adding that the best thing about biking was that he had lost weight, while his glycemia, cholesterol and liver function index had all gone down to healthy levels.
Taiwan Cyclist Federation director Tien Yi-sheng (田沂生) said that safety was still the most important concern for bicycle commuters.
“We still need more systems that are biker-friendly in Taiwan,” Tien said, adding that in Denmark and the Netherlands 30 percent of the workforce commutes by bicycle.
Tien said his federation had established safety guidelines for bicycle commuters, including advice on picking suitable bikes, basic safety equipment such as helmets, gloves, tools and rain gear, as well as information on basic bike repair techniques, such as patching tires, the best routes to work and the time needed to reach certain destinations.
The group advised bike commuters to place safety first by not biking in rainy weather or when feeling unwell, not listening to music while biking, keeping a sharp eye on their surroundings and using front and rear lights at night.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer