Uneven Renai Road causes concern before cycling race

POOR IMAGE?:The thought of cyclists having to ride past construction sites on the road during the final stage of the Tour de Taiwan has officials concerned

By Wu Liang-yi and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Fri, Jan 24, 2014 - Page 5

Cyclists and Taipei City councilors have criticized the Taipei City Government over the quality of the paving on Renai Road (仁愛路), saying that to host the Tour de Taiwan this year under such conditions would give the city a bad image.

Traditionally, the event has hosted its last stage along Renai Road, but cyclists have long complained that the city government has not paid enough attention to the road, causing it to become an uneven patchwork of new and old asphalt.

Some cyclists have said that they prefer to ride on the sidewalk because the road is too bumpy.

Scooter riders also complain that the road is uneven.

A store owner surnamed Hsu (徐) who has a shop on Renai Road said the current state of the road posed a safety risk for athletes who compete in the event.

The cyclists average 40kph, and at that speed they could receive serious injuries if they fall, Hsu said, adding that the organization hosting the event should conduct a thorough inspection of the road before the event starts.

Despite a promise made by the city’s Public Works Department to make sure the road would be repaved after contractors were signed on in June last year, the process encountered an eight-month delay and the work has only recently started.

According to department officials, last year’s construction was to install manhole covers on either side of the road, and the repaving work was to start this year.

The project’s budget is about NT$200 million (US$6.6 million), and the entirety of Renai Road — from section one to four — is to be repaved, the department said.

Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City Councilor Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠) said that the city’s decision to host an international event on a stretch of road that would be littered with construction sites was a terrible one.

“It sends the wrong message to the international community about Taipei,” Yen said.

The department said that it would make sure that the areas still under construction during the event in March would be tidied up to prevent accidents.