Law amendment targets cyclists

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Nov 22, 2013 - Page 3

Cyclists who do not yield to pedestrians on pedestrian crossings, intersections or sidewalks may be fined NT$300 to NT$600 following an amendment to the Act Governing Punishments for Violations of Road Traffic Regulations (道路交通管理處罰條例) yesterday.

The amendment, which secured an initial approval at the legislature’s Transportation Committee, would penalize cyclists talking on mobile phones without using hand-free devices, riding at night without lights or having blood-alcohol levels that exceed the acceptable value. These offenses would all result in a fine of NT$300 to NT$600.

Cyclists refusing to take a breathalyzer test would be fined NT$1,200.

The amendment was proposed because of the rising number of violations made by cyclists. It drew mixed reactions from netizens, however.

A Taipei resident named Jones Huang said the government should have enforced such a law a long time ago because “there are simply too many dumbasses out there who do not respect pedestrians.”

Another netizen, Maureen Chen, said she hated cyclists who do not follow traffic rules.

“I have seen cyclists who swerve in and out of traffic lanes, run through red lights and ride in the wrong direction, which is despicable,” she said.

Some others said the amendment may be ineffective in reducing the violations committed by cyclists.

“NT$600? It would probably not scare anyone. I think it is better that they start cracking down on those electric bicycle riders, who always think that they can disobey traffic regulations,” someone surnamed Lee (李) said.

“How can they penalize cyclists when cyclists in Taiwan are not required to register their vehicles in advance?” Alex Lee asked.

Others commented that the amendment was being unfair to cyclists.

“Does this mean that it is OK for pedestrians to walk on cycle lanes? Doesn’t that break the law as well?” a person surnamed Lo (羅) asked. “A lot of car drivers or motorcyclists do not turn on their lights when driving at night and are not fined. Now they want cyclists to use lights. Both the transportation authority and the legislators are idiots!”

The amendment still needs to pass its second and third readings before it is finalized.

Meanwhile, the amendment also defined “dangerous drivers” more clearly and set penalties for them.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤), who proposed the amendment, said the act did not clearly define dangerous drivers. The police cannot therefore apply the act to punish those who force other drivers to yield by driving dangerously, he said.

Based on the amendment, drivers forcing other motor vehicles to yield by driving too closely, suddenly changing traffic lanes or other inappropriate methods would be fined between NT$6,000 and NT$24,000.

The same penalty would be applied to those who suddenly reduce their speed, slam on their brakes or park in traffic lanes when there is no emergency situation.