Big bikes face usage hurdle
Heavy motorcycles with engines over 550cc will not be allowed on freeways unless local governments agree to the traffic regulations passed by the Legislature last year, Ministry of Transportation and Communications Deputy Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said yesterday. The majority of local governments were opposed to the regulations because of safety concerns, and the transportation ministry is still in discussions with them on issues such as road sections and time slots for heavy bikes, Yeh said. The new regulations were expected to be implemented next month, after the Legislature amended the Road Traffic Management and Punishment Act (道路交通管理處罰條例) in November last year to allow bikes of 550cc and over on Taiwan’s highways. In 2007, the government revised its regulations, permitting motorcycles of 550cc and bigger to travel on 26 expressways throughout the country.
Balloon festival begins
A festival featuring hot-air balloons was launched on Saturday in Taitung County’s Luye Township (鹿野), showcasing 21 hot-air balloons from 13 countries, including the US, Canada, Switzerland, France, Spain and Brazil. The festival, to run until Sept. 2, also includes a hot-air balloon exhibition, light and sound shows featuring hot-air balloons, music concerts, kite-flying and paragliding demonstrations, and lectures and courses on balloons. The best time to watch the balloons displays is from 6am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm, according to the Taitung County Government, which organized the festival. Among the 47 balloon pilots invited to participate in the second annual festival is Wu Chin-yeh (吳金曄), Taiwan’s first female hot-air balloon pilot and one of the first five Taiwanese trained by the county government as a hot-air balloon pilot.
U-Theatre travels abroad
U-Theatre, a renowned Taiwanese arts group, has been invited to take part in a summer festival in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, and will give five performances there from Wednesday to Sunday, a spokeswoman for the troupe said yesterday. It will be the first performance by a professional Taiwanese arts group in the Middle Eastern country, U-Theatre said. U-Theatre, renowned for its unique combination of drumming, Zen meditation and martial arts, will perform its well-known production Sound of the Ocean, as requested by the organizers. However, due to time constraints and cultural customs, the 85-minute production will be shortened to 55 minutes and all the parts will be performed by men for the first time in the troupe’s history, it said. In addition, they will all wear long-sleeved tops and pants instead of the usual traditional costumes, Artistic Director Liu Ruo-yu (劉若瑀) said.
Twenty ships put to rest
Taiwan Sunday decommissioned the last 20 of a fleet of ageing missile boats as part of ongoing efforts to modernize its military forces, officials said. The navy bid farewell to the 50 tonne Seagull-class missile boats during a ceremony held in the southern Zuoying (左營) naval base, more than three decades after they had been put into service. The Taiwanese navy first built the missile boats, reportedly an imitation of Israel’s Dvora-class patrol boats, in the late 1970s and later mass produced them in the early 1980s. The navy had thought the fleet, numbering about 50, would act as “hit and run” boats should a conflict break out in the Taiwan Strait.