Taipei halts cyclist penalty plan

FREE TO RIDE?: A flurry of complaints has stalled a proposal that would see cyclists in Taipei City fined for carrying passengers or riding at speeds greater than 15kph

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Mar 18, 2009 - Page 2

The Taipei City Government yesterday halted its plan to introduce penalties for cyclists who fail to follow regulations after its proposed law attracted a flurry of complaints.

The proposal, drawn up by the Department of Transportation, would set fines for cyclists who fail to install brakes, lights and warning bells. The proposal would also bar cyclists from carrying passengers, including children in baby seats, and require cyclists to ride on exclusive bike paths at speeds less than 15kph.

Faced with a growing number of complaints, Taipei City Government spokesman Yang Hsiao-tung (羊曉東) said the proposal was only in the discussion stage and stressed that the city government aimed to promote cycling.

“The Taipei City Government’s attitude toward cyclists remains the same. We are trying to educate people … rather than trying to punishing them,” he said after a meeting at Taipei City Hall.

Chen Ching-cheng (陳慶誠), a division chief of the department, said a discussion with transportation experts was held last week to discuss the content of The Road Traffic Management and Punishment Act (道路交通管理處罰條例).

Most of the offenses under the proposal are covered by the act and the department only proposed revising the act to give a clear definition of bicycle regulations, Chen said.

Department statistics show that the number of cyclists in the city increased 3 percent last year. However, the number of traffic accidents involving bicycles has also risen.

The department proposed the revisions in an effort to reduce traffic accidents involving cyclists, Chen said.

Under the proposed revision, cyclists would be fined NT$180 for failing to install brakes, lights and bells. Those who carry another person, fail to ride in bike lanes, break traffic regulations or park their bikes illegally would be slapped with fines between NT$300 and NT$600.

Yang said the city government encouraged residents to use bicycles as an environmentally friendly means of transportation.

Yang said department commissioner Luo Shiaw-shyan (羅孝賢), currently on a trip to the US, had already demanded his staff present another draft of the proposal and promised that no penalties would be given to cyclists for the time being.