The Taipei City Government defended the annual Car Free Day event held yesterday after the activity attracted a low number of participants. In addition, the government promoted its public bicycle system, known as U-Bike, to boost the use of public transportation.
The activity, which has been held for the past 11 years, has been attracting less and less participants each year. During the first two editions of the event, the city government banned cars from entering the streets in downtown areas, prompting thousands of participants to walk or bike around town.
However, according to a senior specialist of the city’s Department of Transportation, Sheng Hui-hong (沈慧虹), the activity attracted more than 1,000 participants this year. She said the event’s aim was to promote the use of public transportation, and mobilizing people to boost turnout numbers to the event’s activities was not the main goal.
“Our goal is to encourage more people to use public transportation every day and to protect the environment. The overall turnout is not a major concern,” she said.
During yesterday’s Car Free Day, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) joined 600 bicycle riders to form the word “Green” using colored boards in front of Taipei City Hall.
Hau, who rode a U-Bike from his home in Shilin to Taipei City Hall with a group of Taipei residents, touted the city’s environmental protection achievements, and said the number of residents using public transport has reached 3.4 million a month.
“The city’s U-Bike program has gained popularity, and we expect the public bicycles to become a way for people to make short-distance trips around town, making Taipei’s public transportation network more convenient,” he said.
Liu Chia-yu (劉嘉佑), a division chief at the department, said there are 40 bicycle rental stops around Taipei offering 1,460 rental bicycles.
Under the program, the first 30 minutes of every lease is free, attracting about 4,000 to 4,500 users every day.
Liu said the department would set up more rental stops and offer more rental bicycles.