Thu, Mar 28, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Bike race risked road safety: netizens

AWARDING AUDACITY:Critics called for race organizer Red Bull to be punished for endangering the public by ‘rewarding’ cyclists in its Taipei event for violating road rules

By Wu Liang-yi and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A bicycle racing competition held in downtown Taipei on Saturday came under fire safety after some of its participants were accused of violating traffic regulations while they raced around the city.

Organized by energy drink manufacturer Red Bull, participants in the contest, titled “Red Bull Street Knights (城市騎士任務),” were tasked with collecting signatures from five different locations across the city with the first three contestants to complete the mission awarded a trophy. There was no time limit or designated routes for the event.

Footage recorded by the dashboard cameras of several drivers showed groups of racers swerving around cars, running red lights and riding against traffic, drawing harsh criticism from the public and netizens, who accused them of putting the lives of others at risk for a game.

Among those infuriated by the event was National Chengchi University associate professor of law Liu Hung-en (劉宏恩), who posted a message on his Facebook page on Tuesday denouncing the organizer and demanding that it issue a public apology for endangering road safety.

“Such reckless behavior [by the event’s participants] stood in violation of Article 185 of the Criminal Code, which states that endangering the safety of public traffic is a criminal offense,” Liu said.

“The organizer appears to have purposefully defied the law by sitting back and letting the participating bikers race around the streets recklessly, and then rewarding those who rode the fastest,” Liu said, adding that more companies could copy this behavior if Red Bull was not punished.

In response, Red Bull said in a statement on Tuesday that the event was aimed at promoting the beauty of Taipei and did not offer any monetary incentives to cyclists participating in the race.

“Although we have yet to receive any complaints pertaining to the event or learn about any injuries incurred during the race, we respect opinions from all sectors of society,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Taipei City Government Department of Sports said that organizers of racing events should notify the city government in advance so that the authorities could better ensure road safety by dispatching personnel to regulate traffic.

The Taipei City Police Department’s Traffic Division said that because the bicycles did not have license plates, it would be difficult to fine bikers who transgressed traffice laws “unless they were caught red-handed.”

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