The Taipei City Government yesterday moved to accommodate the metropolis’ rapidly growing number of cyclists, announcing moves toward providing accident insurance to YouBike users and new bike racks around Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations.
Ministry of Transportation and Communications statistics show that the number of bicycles as a proportion of the city’s traffic has increased by 25 percent since 2011, creating safety concerns as legal and policy structures try to catch up.
While individual motorcycle and car drivers are required to purchase insurance to cover accident liabilities and injuries, as are operators of major forms of public transport such as buses, trains and airplanes, bike riders are not.
The growing popularity of Taipei’s YouBike system has made it a widespread form of public transportation.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications said that finding ways to require insurance have been hampered by a lack of precedent, as well as difficulties estimating costs and deciding how to incorporate insurance payments into the YouBike system.
After media reports about the death of a young YouBike user this week, Taipei Department of Transportation Commissioner Wang Sheng-wei (王聲威) yesterday said the city will move to provide accident insurance to YouBike riders and insurance to cover injuries to others for which the riders might be liable, although injuries to riders themselves will not be covered.
The city will also not require YouBike riders to wear helmets, because riders should make their own decision based on the nature of their routes, Wang said.
Moving bicycles are not the only cause for concern — the rapidly rising number of bikes parked on sidewalks also poses a risk, especially next to MRT stations, the Department of Transportation said.
The department plans to add about 4,000 new bike rack spaces around the city next year, with a focus on areas around MRT stations.
Parking rules will also be more strictly enforced around the stations, with illegally parked bicycles removed on a regular basis, the department said.
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