BBC News via Tim Pawsey:
… with modernisation, motorised vehicles – especially scooters – later took over many of Taiwan’s roads. Now, cycling is making a comeback as the Taiwanese see it as a great way to keep fit and have fun.
The annual Taiwan Cycling Festival, held since 2010, is a good indicator of this trend. In 2013, some 22,473 cyclists participated in the races, tours and other activities. But last year, the number of participants more than doubled to 45,810. …
Taiwan’s bike rental services have had a busy year. Taipei City along processed 22 million rentals in 2014, double the 11 million rentals in the previous year. The success mainly stems from a partnership between Taipei City and Taiwan’s biggest bicycle manufacturer Giant which led to the formation of the country’s YouBike Bicycle Program.
Their collaboration led to an increase in the number of rental bikes in the city to 6,046 across 196 rental stations at the end of last year. When both parties jointly launched the scheme in August 2012, just 500 bicycles were available for rent, from a total of 11 stations.
In Taipei, a bike rental programme has proven extremely popular, making the Taiwanese capital perhaps the only Asian city that has managed to convince many people to ride a bicycle instead of a scooter as the main form of transportation.
Renting a bike in Taipei is free for the first half hour and costs only about $0.33 cents for every half hour after that. This has led to 1.9 million bike rentals each month. Each Taipei rental bike is rented out about 12 times a day, much more than those in London, New York and Paris. …
Apart from improving the air quality, the cycling trend has also been good for Taiwan’s bicycle manufacturing industry, which is number one in the world in terms of the number of bicycles manufactured and exported globally.
Giant – the world’s biggest bike maker in terms of revenue – recorded a 10.8% rise in sales in 2014 to $2bn. And it is selling more high-end bikes as many people in Taiwan and other parts of Asia are joining Americans and Europeans in taking up bike riding as a form of recreation. …
Despite the growing popularity of cycling, only 11% of Taiwanese ride bicycles regularly. The government and industry want to get this figure to go up in coming years. If it succeeds, Taiwan and its people could be known for not only making bicycles, but also for being national ambassadors for the two-wheeler.