Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday called for improvements of facilities along popular bicycle routes nationwide to prepare for the Ministry of Transportation and Communications “year of bicycle tourism” campaign next year.
Su made the remarks during the weekly Cabinet meeting in Taipei, evaluating the expansion of the nation’s bicycle route network from 2002 to 2018, during which 7,500km of bicycle trails were built.
However, it is not the length of routes, but the quality of facilities that matters, Su said, adding that it is also important that public transportation systems allow passengers to carry bicycles on trains and buses.
Su also highlighted public bicycle services, such as YouBike, that allow people to rent bicycles and return them at another location, saying that the services should expand.
The central role of bicycles during the early stages of the nation’s economic development are ingrained in the nation’s collective memory, including his own, Su said.
As a lifelong bicycle enthusiast, he finished his first round-island trip on a borrowed bicycle short after graduating from university, he said.
During his first term as premier from 2006 to 2007, he had made May 5 the nation’s Bicycle Day, leading the UN by more than a decade in proclaiming a day dedicated to cycling, Su said.
In September last year, he introduced a NT$1.6 billion (US$54.2 million at the current exchange rates) project to improve bicycle trails nationwide over the course of four years, he said.
However, further improvement is necessary to attract foreign visitors after the COVID-19 pandemic by creating a solid “bicycle network,” he said.
Bicycle trails and policies are governed by different agencies, with the round-nation trail managed by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the promotion of leisure activities and tourism managed by the Sports Administration and the Environmental Protection Administration, while the planning of urban bicycle routes is overseen by the Construction and Planning Agency, the premier said.
All agencies should coordinate their efforts and work with local governments to improve public health and local economies, and boost tourism, he added.
Su said that he envisions Taiwan becoming “a kingdom of bicycle tourism,” with international cycling events and opportunities for bicycle tourists to explore the nation.
He would try to find the time soon to go cycling to inspect the state of the nation’s bicycle infrastructure soon, he added.
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