Cyber Journal 24, June 16, 2017
In order to reduce pollution, and improve people’s health, Taiwan has done something that no other country has done before. The Taiwanese Government has taken several initiatives to promote the use of bicycles.
Taipei Department of Transport’s YouBike initiative
Department of Transportation in Taipei city did not attract many eyeballs back in 2009 when it launched its bike sharing initiative called-YouBike. But this service slowly gained popularity. The initiative was launched in association with bicycle maker-Giant Bicycles.
Bike maker Giant Bicycles suggests that every bike used in this initiative is worth at least USD$330. Bikes are designed in such a way that they can be used for several hours every day. Bikes are also fitted with vehicle tracking and theft prevention system to make sure that no one steals them or misuses them.
Until October 2014, YouBike had 30 million registered users. Currently, there are more than 167 YouBike rental stations spread across various parts of Taipei, and overall, 5,482 bikes are available to be used in the city.
According to data released by Taipei’s public transport officials, 90 percent of the people using these bicycles are satisfied with the service. The rent for this service is US$0.33 for every half an hour during the first four hours. After four hours, the rent increases to US$0.66 for every half an hour.
YouBike users are offered a free ride for the first thirty minutes. But Taipei’s Transport Department has decided to withdraw this offer soon. City’s former mayor Hau Lung-bin had urged the Transport Department to offer a free ride to users during the first thirty minutes in order to promote YouBike and to increase its popularity. This policy worked, and it attracted a lot of people to use this service. But Taipei’s current mayor Ko Wen-je has decided to end this offer.
Travelers can easily rent a bicycle in Taipei
You can rent one of those wonderful orange colored public bicycles at any time. Most of the YouBike rental stations are open twenty-four hours a day. Travelers from various countries can register using their credit card or local mobile phone number. Rental stations accept MasterCard, JCB, and Visa cards. There is no need to pay any deposit or membership fees. Just register, and start using your bicycle in two minutes.
You can visit YouBike’s website or download their iOS, Android app to book your bicycle. You can also register at any service center or with the help of YouBike’s kiosk located in various parts of Taipei.
As mentioned earlier, YouBike has more than 167 outlets in Taipei city. If travelers are willing to travel using this bike from one part of the city to another, they can rent this vehicle from one outlet and simply deposit it at any other outlet nearby the destination that they wish to visit. For example, if you wish to reach Taipei’s city hall metro station from your hotel, you can simply rent a bicycle from nearby your hotel to reach city hall station, and just deposit the bicycle at any outlet that is nearby the station.
There are several frequent international travelers who visit Taipei. They rent a bicycle to reach the metro station, then, travel using metro for few kilometers, and then again rent another bicycle to reach the concerned destination. To put it in simple words, wherever you cannot travel using metro or bus service, you can simply rent a bicycle.
Only one per cent bicycles were reported stolen last year. In case of lost or stolen bicycle, the user is expected to call 1999 and inform the authorities about the lost/stolen vehicle. The user also needs to inform the police and file report about the same.
YouBike’s system automatically stops deducting money from the customer’s account as soon as the bicycle is reported stolen.
Central and local Governments are planning to take more initiatives
As far as global greenhouse gas emissions data is concerned, Taiwan is responsible for one percent of emissions. The air-quality in the country is bad during 50 percent of the days in a year. Fortunately, bicycle and other initiatives are helping the nation to reduce the number of scooters that are used on roads every day. Cycling is also helping in reducing traffic issues at the same time.
Other Taiwanese cities are also following Taipei’s footsteps, and are launching similar initiatives. The country’s central government has recently declared its plan to develop 2,600 kilometers of cycle tracks in addition to 3,000 kilometers of existing ones that were developed during the last few years in various parts of Taiwan.
Taiwanese Government’s air quality protection department’s head, Chen Shyan-heng, recently interacted with journalists and shared information about government’s initiatives.
He stressed on the point that their government wants people to reduce the use of scooter and cars. It also aims to reduce the use of fuel, which will ultimately reduce pollution as well.
Chen Shyan-heng is positive about government’s bicycle-related initiatives and suggests that bikes offer convenience to tourists as well as locals. It also promotes exercising.
Government’s initiatives to promote cycling are also helping cycle manufacturers in the country. Some of the country’s top cycle makers have reported as much as 10 per cent rise in sales figures during the last few years. Some cycle makers are also exporting bicycles to European countries and to the United States.
The small island nation has proved that that people are still willing to leave their scooters behind, and are willing to spend as much as an hour in cycling while going to work.
Nitten is a consultant journalist, and has worked with renowned newspapers, news agency in India. If you are looking for desktop journalist, writer, you can email Nitten- firstname.lastname@example.org
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