People on motorcycles and scooters took to major thoroughfares in Taipei for a rally yesterday afternoon, headed by advocates demanding the right to ride on major provincial highways and an end to other thoroughfares being designed predominantly for cars.
The rally, organized by the Formosa Motorcycle Rights Association, was attended by New Power Party (NPP) legislators Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華), Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智), and Claire Wang (王婉諭), along with representatives from the Green Party Taiwan and the Taiwan Renewal Party.
About 5,000 riders and their two-wheeled vehicles assembled by Taipei Expo Park and proceeded to Ketagalan Boulevard, parking their motorcycles, scooters and bicycles in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Building.
Taiwan averages about 3,000 fatalities yearly in road mishaps and collisions, association spokesman Huang Po-yue (黃柏岳) said.
“This is too many people killed on the road. It should be considered a national security crisis,” Huang said.
“Policies governing road use and traffic safety regulations are replete with dangers to drivers and riders,” he said. “Taiwan’s roads are badly planned and poorly designed.”
He said government leaders and Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) officials were not listening to voices and complaints from concerned citizens over the years, adding that the government agency responsible for road safety and policy changes is monopolized by small cliques of ministry officials, academics and representatives of transportation companies.
The rally’s theme was “Lift Martial Law on the Road,” referencing how far some “outdated restrictions and bizarre rules” date back.
Some of the demands made yesterday were to permit the use of motorcycles and scooters on provincial highways, end two-step left-turn requirements for motorcycles at intersections, end the use of speed-limit cameras, and for citizen representation on MOTC committees governing road safety.
Taiwan has more than 14 million motorcycles and scooters, while cars number 8 million, Chen said.
“The government has designated most roads for cars only,” she said. “Motorcycles and pedestrians mix dangerously on the periphery of roads. It is unjust.”
Ministry officials designate separate lanes for cars and motorcycles for stated safety reasons, but Chen said that cars often cut into motorcycle traffic.
“Then you have buses pulling over at stops, and pedestrians and people in wheelchairs using the outer lanes when sidewalks get blocked, plus vehicles crowding at intersections to make right turns,” she said. “This increases the chance of collisions.”
The government has been negligent for too long, Chen said.
Officials responsible for road design and safety have been derelict in their duties for too many years, Chen said, adding: “Citizens pay the price in blood and lost lives... It has become so bad that travel guidebooks in the US and Japan, for instance, give stern warnings about Taiwan’s dangerous traffic conditions.”
Chen and other NPP legislators supported the rally to advocate for “equal rights” for road use.
“Taiwan must have traffic policies that respect the rights and safety of all pedestrians, cars and two-wheeled vehicles,” she said.
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